When Does a Cut Need Treatment?

person using a knife to cut an onion

Even the smallest cut can result in a lot of bleeding, which can cause people to immediately think they need to rush to the nearest urgent care or emergency room to get the wound closed. However, minor cuts and scrapes are everyday occurrences, and they typically can be treated at home if the proper steps are followed. Learn which cuts can be treated at home and which need a trip to River’s Edge Hospital’s Urgent Care Department for care.

Cuts That Require Immediate Medical Attention

There are two factors that almost immediately determine whether medical attention is needed: the location and cause of the cut.

Cut locations that require medical attention are:

  • On or across a joint
  • On the face
  • On the genitals

Cut causes that require medical attention:

  • Puncture wounds, especially if caused by a rusty nail or jagged piece of glass.
  • An animal or human bite
  • A cut that removes all layers of skin, such as when a finger or toe is cut off. If this happens, try to recover the skin and take it with you to the doctor.

Other Reasons Cuts Need Medical Attention

In addition to location and cause, other signs your cut needs medical attention include:

  • Blood is gushing or squirting out of the wound and can’t be stopped by applying pressure to the wound.
  • The cut is deep, jagged or can’t be pushed together.
  • It was caused by something clean, but you haven’t had a tetanus shot in the last 10 years.
  • The cut was caused by something dirty, such as a rusty nail, and you haven’t had a tetanus shot in the last five years.
  • Dirt or debris in the cut won’t come out.
  • The cut shows signs of infection, including redness or swelling.

If your cut is minor and doesn’t meet any of the above criteria, it can probably be treated at home.

Treating a Cut at Home

Follow these steps to stop the cut from bleeding and reduce the risk for infection:

  1. Clean the cut gently with soap and water.
  2. Apply pressure with a clean cloth or gauze until the cut stops bleeding. If the cut is on your arm or leg, raise the limb above your heart, if possible, to help slow the bleeding.
  3. Protect the cut from infection by applying an antibiotic ointment and a bandage. If it bleeds through the bandage, don’t remove it; just apply another bandage on top and continue to apply pressure.

If you’ve followed these at home steps and the bleeding hasn’t stopped or slowed after 10 minutes, seek the opinion of a medical expert. The healthcare professionals at River’s Edge Hospital’s Urgent Care Department are here for you.

River’s Edge Hospital’s Urgent Care Department offers walk-in care Monday–Friday from noon to 7:30 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m.–4 p.m. 

Featured Services

  • person receiving physical therapy

    Physical and Occupational Therapy >

    Our physical therapists are trained to effectively rehabilitate a variety of conditions and will work with you to assess your needs and design a treatment plan to meet your therapy goals.

  • orthopedics

    OrthoEdge >

    The OrthoEdge Joint Replacement Program includes the involvement of your entire care team to help you through the joint replacement process and return you to an active lifestyle as quickly as possible.

  • doctor looking into patients throat

    Emergency Room >

    Emergency Room River’s Edge Hospital Emergency Department is a Level IV Trauma Center that is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.