How Do You Know When a Wound Needs Medical Attention?

when to see a doctor for a wound

When you get a minor cut or scrape, you probably don’t think twice about going to the doctor. But when a wound is larger or more serious, how do you know when it might be necessary to seek medical attention?

Here are five telltale signs that you should have your wound looked at by a medical professional as soon as possible.

1. It Is Very Large or Very Deep

If your injury is more than about a quarter of an inch deep, it is likely that it needs stitches. You should also see a doctor if your wound is gaping open, has jagged edges, or goes down to muscle tissue or bone.

2. Something Is Embedded in the Wound

Any time there is an object such as wood or glass embedded in a wound, do not remove it and seek medical attention. In the meantime, you can try to stop bleeding by applying pressure to the wound without pushing the object further in.

3. Bleeding Will Not Stop

Typically, the first step to treating a cut is to apply slight pressure to get the bleeding to stop. However, if you are unable to stop the bleeding on your own, go to urgent care or the emergency room.

4. It Was Caused by a Bite or Something Dirty

If your wound was caused by a bite by an animal or even a human, or if it was caused by something dirty like a rusty nail, you need to see a doctor. Tetanus is caused by a particular bacteria that lives in the soil, which is why objects that have been lying outside in the dirt for long periods of time can put you at risk for tetanus.

5. You Notice Signs of Infection

Even if your cut doesn’t appear to be very large or exceptionally severe, it could develop an infection which may require medical help. Signs of infection include:

  • Pus
  • Redness and swelling
  • Pain
  • Warm or hot to the touch
  • Fever

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