Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

First Aid & Emergencies

Font Size

Cuts: When Stitches Are Needed - Topic Overview

It is important to determine if your wound needs to be closed by a doctor. Your risk of infection increases the longer the wound remains open. Most wounds that require closure should be stitched, stapled, or closed with skin adhesives (also called liquid stitches) within 6 to 8 hours after the injury. Some wounds that require treatment can be closed as long as 24 hours after the injury.

Wash the wound well and stop the bleeding, then pinch the sides of the wound together. If the edges of the wound come together and it looks better, you may want to consider seeing your doctor for treatment. If treatment may be needed, do not use an antiseptic or antibiotic ointment until after a doctor has examined the wound.

Recommended Related to First Aid

Understanding Sprains and Strains -- Prevention

The best way to prevent sprains or strains is to keep yourself in good physical shape -- with regular stretching and strengthening exercises -- so that your muscles, ligaments, and tendons are strong and flexible enough to resist trauma. To prevent recurrent injury, ask your doctor or physical therapist for exercises designed to rehabilitate the muscles in the injured area. You may benefit from a brace to protect the area while you are recovering from a recent injury. Use a brace for only a short...

Read the Understanding Sprains and Strains -- Prevention article > >

The location and type of wound also affects how soon it should be treated.

  • Wounds that have an increased risk of infection, such as dirty cuts or crush injuries, are usually closed within 6 hours after the injury. Occasionally a wound that has an increased risk of infection will not be closed until after 24 hours, or may not be stitched at all, so that adequate cleaning and antibiotic treatment can be done initially to prevent infection.
  • A cut with a clean object, such as a clean kitchen knife, may be treated from 12 to 24 hours after the injury depending on the location of the cut.
  • A facial wound may be treated to reduce scarring.

Treatment by a doctor is more likely to be needed for:

  • Wounds that are more than 0.25 in. (6.5 mm) deep, that have jagged edges, or that gape open.
  • Deep wounds that go down to the fat, muscle, bone, or other deep structures.
  • Deep wounds over a joint, especially if the wound opens when the joint is moved or if pulling the edges of the wound apart shows fat, muscle, bone, or joint structures.
  • Deep wounds on the hands or fingers.
  • Wounds on the face, lips, or any area where you are worried about scarring (for cosmetic reasons). Wounds on the eyelids often need treatment for both functional and cosmetic reasons.
  • Wounds longer than 0.75 in. (20 mm) that are deeper than 0.25 in. (6.5 mm).
  • Wounds that continue to bleed after 15 minutes of direct pressure.

The types of wounds listed above usually need an evaluation by a doctor but may not always need to be closed by a doctor.

    Next Article:

    Cuts: When Stitches Are Needed Topics

    Today on WebMD

    Antibiotic on hand
    3d scan of fractured skull
    Father putting ointment on boy's face
    Person taking food from oven
    sniffling child
    wound care true or false
    caring for wounds
    Harvest mite

    Pollen counts, treatment tips, and more.

    It's nothing to sneeze at.

    Loading ...

    Sending your email...

    This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.


    Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

    WebMD the app

    Get first aid information. Whenever. Wherever... with your iPhone, iPad or Android.

    Find Out More