Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Does your child need stitches?

My three-year-old got two good ol' fashioned stitches a couple weeks ago. He tripped on a blanket and fell down the stairs. I knew he needed stitches because the cut was gaping. When I tried to push the skin back together, you could really see the width and depth of the cut. We pulled and screamed while the doc tried to put in the stitches. Then he pulled one out on the way home. The other one was missing the next day ( he says it fell out.) So now he has a scar. I am so sad. I am still hoping it goes away. The doctor said the only reason he used stitches was because of where the cut occurred(near his mouth). If it had been somewhere that doesn't move a lot, he would have used surgical glue. Now I am thinking I should have requested both!

So how do you know if your child needs stitches? Here's some advice from Kid's Health.

Between the playground, sports, and the rough-and-tumble of everyday life, kids end up with bruises, scrapes, and cuts from time to time. While these often require little more than some disinfectant and a bandage, it's important to know when a cut might need medical attention or even a few stitches.

Your child may need stitches if the cut:

  • is still bleeding after you apply pressure for 5 minutes
  • is gaping or wide
  • appears deep
  • is on your child's face or neck
  • contains glass or other debris
  • has an object sticking out of it, such as a twig
  • spurts blood

If a cut is spurting blood, it may be because an artery has been nicked. The wound should be treated and stitched immediately so that its edges can come together and heal properly.

A common concern with cuts is whether a tetanus shot is necessary. A child who has not had a tetanus shot within the last 5 years may need one to protect against infection. A child may also need a shot if the wound was caused by rusty metal, is contaminated with dirt or saliva, or is a bite from an animal. The tetanus shot must be given within 48 hours of the time the wound occurred. But the sooner the shot is given, the better, as it will help to lower the risk of infection.

These guidelines can help you determine whether your child needs immediate medical attention, but ultimately, doctors in your local clinic or emergency room are the ones who can best decide whether a cut needs stitches.

-NewsAnchorMom Jen

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