When to Get Stitches for a Cut Scalp


A bump on the head is not only painful, but it can be frightening, especially if bleeding is involved. Knowing how to treat a cut scalp properly can be a handy piece of knowledge when you or a loved one gets a head injury.

Doctor examines head x-rays.
Doctor examines head x-rays. (Image: Rafał Ulicki/iStock/Getty Images)

10-Minute Rule

When a cut seems to be just skin deep and bleeding is minimal, there is usually no cause for alarm. However, according to aHealthyMe.com, the scalp has many blood vessels near the skin, so bleeding is often heavier than in other places on the body.

If possible, rinse the wound off to make sure no debris is in the cut, and check for bleeding. If blood continues to flow, apply pressure with a clean towel and wait for the blood to stop. If the wound continues to bleed after 10 minutes of pressure, seek medical attention. Since one purpose for stitches is to stop bleeding, there is a good chance this wound is serious enough to warrant the treatment.

10 minute rule.
10 minute rule. (Image: Dimedrol68/iStock/Getty Images)

Physical Appearance

A lot can be discovered about the severity of a scalp wound by simply looking. Any gaping wound in which it appears the edges would not fit back together easily with a band-aid may need stitches. When the cut is deep and other tissue may be observed inside the cut, it is likely the wound requires immediate stitches, according to Parentspress.com.

If skin has been torn away during the injury, the edges of the cut likely won't look like straight lines. If the edges of the wound are jagged and separated by any distance, stitches are most likely needed. On the other hand, if the cut looks as if it were made by a sharp knife in a straight line, it may be able to heal without stitches.

Look at the wound overall.
Look at the wound overall. (Image: Polka Dot Images/Polka Dot/Getty Images)

Quick Response

Deep cuts are easily infected and can cause severe scarring if not treated properly and quickly. A deep cut to the scalp must be sutured or stitched within eight hours if possible, and no later than 24 hours after the injury takes place, according to aHealthyMe.com. Waiting more than 24 hours can cause stitches not to hold properly, greatly increasing the risk of infection.

Get medical attention.
Get medical attention. (Image: BananaStock/BananaStock/Getty Images)

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