Does my cut need stitches?

A cut may need stitches (or other treatments) if:

  • the bleeding does not stop after 10 minutes of applying pressure
  • the cut is long or deep
  • something is embedded within the cut
  • the cut occurred as a result of an animal or human bite, or was punctured by any other object that may cause infection
  • the cut is on the mouth, face, hand or genitals

If any of the above apply, then see your GP or NHS walk-in centre as soon as possible.

You should also see your GP if you think the cut is not healing properly, or may be showing signs of infection. Common signs of infection include:

  • swelling
  • redness
  • pain
  • pus coming from the wound

The cut may need to be cleaned or stitched, and you may be given antibiotics.

Treating minor cuts and grazes

Bleeding from small cuts and grazes can be controlled by applying pressure to the cut using a clean, non-fluffy pad (preferably a sterile dressing, if you have one).

You should also raise the injured body part above the level of the heart so the bleeding slows down and stops. If it’s your hand or arm, raise it above your head; if it’s a lower limb, lie down and raise it.

If you don’t have a sterile dressing, use a hand, tea towel or t-shirt to slow down the bleeding.

Once you're sure the cut is clean and the bleeding has stopped, wrap a dressing around it and make sure it’s secure. For more information about cleaning cuts and grazes, see How do I clean a wound?

The cut should heal by itself within a few days.

Further information:

Page last reviewed: 11/04/2017

Next review due: 11/04/2020