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To stitch or not to stitch?

What's the best way to close an open wound?

Question:

I have a whole lot of birthday candles on my cake and have seen many major changes in the way cuts are handled. It used to be common practice to get out the needle and thread and just sew them up. I don’t recall ever seeing any real issues with this?

Submitted by - Mike, Meeker, Colorado

Answer:

When you look at the big picture, the rate of infection for wounds closed with needle and thread is high when the closure takes place outside of a relatively sterile environment. The chance for a favorable outcome—that is, no infection, quick healing, minimal scarring—is much better if you clean a wound as best you can and pull it shut with closure strips or thin strips of tape. Or if you’re tape-less, clean the wound well, bind it shut as best you can, and find a doctor for final closure.  —Buck

1 Comment

  1. Steve

    I am a plastic surgeon that hikes/camps a lot. Listen to Buck’s advice. If you don’t really know what you are doing, you WILL do it wrong and assure yourself of a problem. Standard needle and thread are not appropriate for suturing skin.

    That said, I agree with those stating that super glue is good for small wounds (after a good cleaning with soap and treated water). Same with ointment for bigger wounds.
    As far as bleeding goes, if you can’t stop it, it is probably an artery and sewing the skin together is not going to stop it. Well applied pressure (finger or hand) can stop just about any bleeding you are likely to stop short of bleeding to death. Use of clotting agents of any type (pepper??? really???) is ridiculous. Apply pressure and get help or get to help ASAP.

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