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
WebMD

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
WebMD

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
    WebMD

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community
    WebMD

    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

Font Size
A
A
A

Getting Stitches (Sutures)

Most minor cuts and scrapes heal on their own, with little more intervention needed than mild soap and water to keep them clean. But more serious cuts or incisions from surgical procedures may require stitches, or sutures, to hold tissues together while they heal. The goal is to piece together the edges so that skin and other tissues can fuse back together. Then the stitches are removed.

Although it's natural to feel a little anxious if you're getting stitches, especially if you've just experienced trauma, the procedure is generally painless. And stitches will help cuts heal with minimal scarring or risk for infection.

Recommended Related to Skin Problems & Treatments

5 MRSA 'Hot Spots'

Where in your community can you find the drug-resistant staph germs known as MRSA? The surprising answer: They're closer than you may think. With all the buzz about MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus), it's easy to forget there really are two MRSA epidemics going on at the same time. By far the largest epidemic is going on inside hospitals and other health care facilities. The staph bug causing these infections resists treatment with a broad range of antibiotics. Because it attacks...

Read the 5 MRSA 'Hot Spots' article > >

Signs a Cut May Need Stitches

It's not always easy to tell if a cut requires stitches. Ultimately, it's up to your health care provider to determine if stitches are needed. You should seek medical care for any cut that:

  • Is deep, jagged, or gaping
  • Is on the face or another part of the body where scarring may be an issue
  • Bleeds profusely without stopping after 20 minutes of direct pressure
  • Feels numb
  • Is in a hand or limb that doesn't function properly after being cut

If any of these criteria apply to your injury, see a doctor as soon as you can. In the meantime, apply direct pressure to help control bleeding. It might also help to raise the injured area above the level of your heart, if possible.

There are certain instances in which stitches may not be advised, such as puncture wounds, though you may still need to see a doctor, especially if you have not had a tetanus shot in more than five years.

The Procedure

Once a health care provider has assessed your injury and determined that you need stitches, the first steps he or she will take in treating the wound are to clean and numb the area, though not necessarily in that order. Although cleaning a wound is not very painful in most cases, the doctor may first administer a local anesthetic, similar to what your dentist might use, to maximize your comfort. If your injury seems particularly contaminated, however, cleansing it -- usually with running tap water and a mild soap -- may be a higher priority.

1 | 2 | 3

Today on WebMD

chafing
Pictures and symptoms of the red, scaly rash.
woman with dyed dark hair
What it says about your health.
 
woman with cleaning products
Top causes of the itch that rashes.
atopic dermatitus
Identify and treat common skin problems.
 
itchy skin
Article
shingles rash on skin
Article
 
woman with skin tag
Quiz
Woman washing face
Video
 
woman washing her hair in sink
Video
close up of womans bare neck
Tools
 
Feet
Slideshow
woman with face cream
Quiz