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Testing, Testing 123: Phlebotomy Basics

When my mother underwent chemotherapy, we spent a lot of time visiting the phlebotomy lab for blood testing. I was always impressed by how easily the phlebotomist was able to find and puncture a vein to draw blood on the first try. I knew there had to be a method to it, and was astounded by how effortless and painless they made the process. It led me to research a lot about blood tests, from drawing to the actual screening. I've created this site to share what I've learned in the hopes of teaching others. The more you understand, the more control you can have over your own health care.



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Testing, Testing 123: Phlebotomy Basics

Cuts And Scrapes: Do You Need Stitches?

by Francisco Arnold

If you or a family member gets a cut or a scrape, how can you know if it is serious enough to need medical attention? Some people think that stitches aren't really necessary because the wound will heal on its own, but getting a bad cut or scrape fixed professionally can actually help reduce the development of scar tissue and help the affected area heal faster. In some cases, you might even lose a little mobility if you don't get the cut fixed with stitches. Here's how you can know of your cut needs fixed with a home bandage or if you need to take a trip to your local urgent care center. 

1. The cut is jagged. 

Cuts with straight edges, such as a cut you might get from a knife, are easier to heal than cuts that have torn, jagged edges. If you have an area of your skin that has been ripped or cut irregularly, getting stitches might be necessary because if you don't, you could end up with a ropey scar that takes a long time to heal. Stitches help to bring the zigzag of skin back together properly. 

2. The cut is long.

Long cuts are harder for you to care for yourself because the motion of your body can disturb the cut in one place, which reopens it all along the surface. Long cuts can be held together with stitches so they don't gape open each time you move. A long, open cut is also more likely to get infected just because it has a greater surface area. 

3. The cut is deep.

Sometimes, a cut is not long or jagged but is deep. For example, you might puncture yourself with an object, like a nail, that goes a couple of inches into your skin. You need to see a doctor for these types of wounds because they can get infected deep in your tissue, and they can damage muscle, not just your skin. 

4. The cut is in a sensitive or difficult place.

If you have a cut on your face, getting it stitched professionally reduced the chance that you will have a big, red scar on your face. If you have a cut on your hands, you might also see a doctor because wounds to fingers can reduce your ability to use your hands if they do not heal well. 

5. The cut is not clean or is caused by an object still in the skin. 

If there are things in the scrape or cut, such as glass shards, dirt, rocks, or other debris, you need to have it clean by a medical professional. If the cut was caused by something that is lodged in your skin, such as a wood chip, you should also make a trip to urgent care for treatment and an updated tetanus shot.