Cuts, scrapes and lacerations come from everyday life

Cuts, scrapes and lacerations are mostly minor injuries. You may cut your finger while slicing food in the kitchen or scrape your elbow from a fall on the pavement. (Deeper scrapes are called abrasions.) Laceration, a jagged tear in the skin, might come from cutting yourself on a metal lid when opening a can. Depending on how deep your wound is, how close it is to a joint or tendon, and how much it’s bleeding, determines whether or not you need to get medical assistance.

Gaping cuts and cuts that won’t stop bleeding

Most cuts, scrapes and lacerations can be treated at home with antibiotic ointment and a bandage. However, you should get checked out by a doctor if your cut:

  • Exposes muscle or bone
  • Has debris embedded in it that you cannot remove on your own
  • Is deeper than 1/8”
  • Is spurting blood
  • Was caused by a rusty object
  • Won’t stop bleeding even after you’ve applied pressure for 15 minutes

Keep in mind you can help avoid infection by making sure your hands are clean before you touch or treat a cut.

How to know when you need stitches

Some cuts may require stitches, or sutures. In general, if your cut is an “open split” that looks more natural when pressed back together, it may need stitches. Common types of stitches include stapling, stitching and skin adhesives (liquid stitches). Getting stitched up in a timely manner will help prevent infection and help the wound heal more quickly.

To schedule an appointment with a specialist at Main Line Health, call 1.866.CALL.MLH (1.866.225.5654) or use our secure online appointment request form.