How can I tell if my child needs stitches for a cut? – Andrea Most kids get bruises, scrapes, and cuts from time to time. Many small cuts can be treated at home by washing the wound and using a bandage. But it's important to know when a cut might need medical care or even a few stitches. Your child may need stitches if a cut: is still bleeding after you apply pressure for 5 minutes is gaping or wide looks deep is on your child's face, lips, or neck has glass or other debris in it has an object sticking out of it, such as a twig spurts blood If a cut is spurting blood, an artery might have been nicked. It's important to put pressure on the wound with a clean cloth right away. The wound should be checked at an urgent care clinic or ER as soon as possible. These guidelines can help you decide if a cut needs stitches. But doctors in your local clinic or emergency room are the ones will know for sure. If Your Child Gets Stitches A healing cut can get infected, so doctors clean them carefully. At home, help prevent infection by taking good care of the cut as it heals. Check the wound every day. Some mild redness around it is normal. But call the doctor right away if: There's growing redness, warmth, or swelling around the wound. This could be the start of an infection. Red streaks are coming from the wound. Pus drains from the wound. The edges of the wound start to separate. Your child develops pain or a fever. The stitches have started to come out or the wound is opening up. A health care provider will take out the stitches later. How long they stay in depends on the kind of cut and where it is. Sometimes, doctors put small white sticky tapes (butterfly bandages) over the stitches to give them extra strength. These tapes loosen in a few days and fall off on their own. Most cuts, even those fixed by stitches, leave a small scar. That's because when the deeper layer of the skin is injured, the body uses the protein collagen to help fill in the cut area. The filled-in area becomes a scar. Over time, some scars fade or get smaller. Back to Articles Related Articles Household Safety: Preventing Cuts It's important to protect kids from sharp and dangerous items around and outside the home. Here are ways to prevent cuts and other injuries. Read More Dealing With Cuts Find out how to handle minor cuts at home - and when to get medical care for a more serious injury. Read More Tetanus Tetanus (also called lockjaw) is a preventable disease that affects the muscles and nerves, usually due to a contaminated wound. Read More First Aid: Cuts Most cuts can be safely treated at home. But deeper cuts - or any wounds that won't stop bleeding - need emergency medical treatment. Read More Wound Healing and Care How well a wound heals depends on where it is on the body and what caused it – as well as how well someone cares for the wound at home. Find out what to do in this article for teens. Read More Stitches Most kids need stitches at one time or another to help a cut heal properly. Read this article to learn all about stitches and what they do. Read More Cuts, Scratches, and Scrapes Most small cuts, scrapes, or abrasions heal on their own. Here are tips for teens on how to treat cuts at home - and when to get medical help. Read More Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor. © 1995-2021 KidsHealth®. All rights reserved. Images provided by The Nemours Foundation, iStock, Getty Images, Veer, Shutterstock, and Clipart.com.