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House calls: Stitches

Q. My kids are active so I’m always bandaging knees and elbows. How do I know when a cut needs stitches?

A. Head to the emergency room for treatment if a cut is deep (you may see fat and muscle protruding), is more than a half-inch long or has jagged edges. Your child probably needs stitches to close the wound and prevent scarring. Because of cosmetic implications, seek medical treatment for wounds on the face, chest and back. Some cuts can be closed with surgical “glue” in lieu of stitches, much to the relief of needle-wary kids and parents. You can probably treat minor cuts yourself if you can halt bleeding and close the “mouth” of the wound and if dirt and debris aren’t embedded. Call your pediatrician if there’s any numbness, signs of infection like swelling or pus or if bleeding resumes.