Dear Home-Ec 101,
How do I know if a cut is serious enough to go to the ER?
My knife skills need work
This is a very good question. Many people question when an expensive trip to the ER is warranted, and when you can do for yourself at home. Now, neither Heather nor I are medical professionals and any advice we give should not be replaced by that of a medical professional. And void where prohibited by law. And other standard disclaimers.
Go to the ER immediately if:
- The cut is jagged, has rough edges, or is very deep (you can see muscle or bone)
- The cut bleeds in spurts (you may have hit an artery)
- Your cut soaks through several bandages, or doesn’t stop bleeding after 10 minutes with direct pressure on the wound.
- There is something embedded in the wound that cannot be removed.
Go to your doctor or a walk-in-clinic if:
- You were cut by something dirty or rusty and you haven’t had a tetanus shot in the last ten years, or cannot remember when your last tetanus shot was.
- Your wound shows signs of infection, like redness, swelling, numbness or oozing. Also, if you run a fever of 100 degrees fahrenheit, you may have an infection.
Most cuts can be taken care of at home. Make sure you clean it well and put an antibiotic ointment on it.