MedExpress Article Banner
MedExpress Intro Copy

Accidents happen. While most minor cuts can be taken care of with home first aid, there are some injuries that require medical attention. On this page, you’ll learn when you may need stitches or staples.


There’s a major difference between a cut and a wound that is gaping or spurting blood. If you have a major wound, you should visit an ER to get emergency medical attention immediately. If you have a minor wound that you believe may need stitches or staples, read on to learn how MedExpress can help.

How to Know if You Need Stitches

Depending on the severity and size of your cut, stitches or staples may be required to stop the bleeding and help the healing process. More shallow wounds may be closed with strips and some wounds, such as those on your head, may be closed with staples.

Generally, a wound requires stitches if:

  • It’s deeper or longer than half an inch
  • Any fatty tissue, muscle or bone is exposed
  • It’s gaping or wide
  • It’s on a joint
  • Bleeding doesn’t stop after ten minutes of direct pressure
  • It can prevent infection
  • It can prevent scarring

You should also seek care if the wound is:

  • On someone’s face
  • Has dirt or debris in it
  • Shows any sign of infection, such as redness or discharge
  • Feels numb Is from an animal or human bite
  • Is a puncture or deep wound and you haven’t had a tetanus shot in the last ten years

After cleansing and exploring the wound, your MedExpress provider may numb the area and apply stitches by carefully threading sutures from one end of the wound to the other. Depending on the nature of the wound and the patient's vaccination status, your provider may want to provide a tetanus vaccination. MedExpress offers the Tdap vaccine and Td vaccine.

MedExpress CTA Module

get stitches at MedExpress

Turn to your neighborhood MedExpress for help with cuts that may need stitches.


For your convenience, we accept most major insurance. To verify that your insurance is in-network, visit the Plan Your Visit page. We also offer a discount to those patients who choose to pay in full for their visit at the time of service. Self-pay services are $199.

What Is Dermabond?

If appropriate, MedExpress may also use Dermabond – a tissue adhesive – to fuse the edges of the wound together. Dermabond creates a water-resistant and flexible protective layer over the wound and eliminates the need for suture removal. Dermabond is water-resistant, but it is not water-proof and can be dissolved with excessive exposure to wet environments.

Dermabond will stay in place from five to ten days and then fall off your skin on its own. When changing dressings, do not place tape or topical medications on Dermabond. You should avoid itching, scratching or rubbing the covering until it is ready to come off.

woman and child hiking

What If I Have a Deep Cut?

Minor cuts will eventually stop bleeding with time and some pressure. However, more severe injuries may need help, including elevation and direct pressure on the wound with a clean cloth or piece of gauze.

If the bleeding is severe, is spurting or can’t be stopped with ten minutes of direct pressure, call 911 immediately.

Otherwise, gently clean the wound with soap and warm water, rinsing the soap to reduce irritation. Get medical attention as soon as possible.

How to Know If You Need Staples: Staples are generally used when they would lead to less scarring and are most often applied to the scalp, torso, arms and legs. Unlike stitches, which often come out on their own, staples will need to be removed within 7 to 14 days. Never try to remove your staples on your own. Your provider will follow specific techniques and use special medical tools to remove them.

How to Stop Bleeding

As mentioned above, direct pressure on the wound, covered with a clean piece of cloth or gauze, should stop most small wounds from bleeding in ten minutes or less.

If the wound is on the arm or leg, try to elevate the limb to reduce bleeding.

If the bleeding can be stopped with direct pressure, there is no need for a tourniquet.

If a wound continues to bleed or starts to bleed again, seek medical attention.

How Should I Care for My Wound?

For the healing process to continue, it's recommended that patients with stitches, staples or Dermabond do the following:

  • Keep the wound dry for 24 to 48 hours after stitches or staples have been placed.
  • After that short window, cool water and mild soap can be used to gently wash the area, though rubbing or washing the stitches or staples themselves is not advised.
  • Pat dry with a clean towel, being careful not to rub the area.
  • Apply fresh bandages and ointment if instructed to do so by your provider.
  • Antibiotics may be prescribed, in some cases, to prevent infection.

If you have any concerns with how your wound is healing, seek medical care.

Some stitches will dissolve on their own. Others, though, might need to be removed by a medical professional. Staples must also be removed professionally. Your neighborhood MedExpress can help with the proper removal of stitches or staples, if needed.

MedExpress Near Location