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When Should You Go To Urgent Care For A Cut?

by Stella Robinson

Not every cut needs professional medical attention. For a minor cut, you can typically just apply some antibiotic cream and a Band-Aid, and let the wound heal on its own. More serious cuts, however, often do require treatment. An urgent care center is a great place to have your cuts treated since the wait tends to be a lot shorter than at the emergency room. But how do you know you need to head to urgent care for a cut? Look for these signs.

The cut is a puncture wound or is quite deep.

Even if the cut is not very long, you should seek care for it if it is significantly deep. A rough guideline is that you should seek care for a cut that's more than 1/8 inch deep. The concern here is not just whether the cut will heal, but whether it will become infected. You can't always clean deeper cuts well, which makes infection likely. An urgent care center can better clean the wound, and if needed, prescribe antibiotics.

The cut opens wide.

If the edges of the cut tend to peel back, and the wound looks like it is popping open on its own, then you need to head to urgent care. The wound won't heal well if it's not closing; you'll need stitches to hold it shut.

The cut was caused by something dirty.

If you cut yourself on something dirty, rusty, or contaminated, definitely head to urgent care, even if the wound is rather small. You may need a tetanus shot to keep you from getting tetanus, and you might need antibiotics to prevent other infections. 

The cut is more than a half-inch long.

Even shallow cuts can be difficult to heal if they are long. A general guideline is that you should seek care for any cut that's more than 1/2 inch long. But if the cut is really shallow, it may be able to heal on its own if it's just a little longer than that. When in doubt, head to urgent care. A few stitches can really speed up the healing process, even if they are not 100 percent necessary.

Hopefully, you now have a better idea of when you should head to urgent care for a cut. If you're ever unsure, call your closest urgent care center and tell them about your wound. They should be able to give you more personalized guidance. Contact an urgent care clinic for more information.