A laceration is a tear or opening in the skin that’s caused by an injury. Emergency medical care may be necessary if a laceration is severe. Lacerations that involve the face, are longer than 1/2 inch, are deep, or are bleeding heavily, may require stitches.
Specific treatment for lacerations that require more than minor treatment at home will be determined by your doctor. In general, call your doctor for lacerations that are:
- Bleeding heavily and do not stop after five to 10 minutes of direct pressure; If the bleeding is profuse, hold pressure for five to 10 minutes without stopping to look at the cut. If the cloth becomes soaked with blood, put a new cloth on top of the old one. Do not lift the original cloth.
- Deep or longer than 1/2 inch
- Located close to the eye
- Large cuts on the face
- Caused by a puncture wound or dirty or rusty object
- Embedded with debris, such as dirt, stones, or gravel
- Ragged or have separated edges
- Caused by an animal or human bite
- Excessively painful
- Showing signs of infection, such as increased warmth, redness, swelling, or drainage
If stitches or Steri-Strips are used to close a laceration, a doctor will give you specific instructions for how to care for the wound. Treatment at home will be based on the location and size of the laceration, type of stitches used, and any special needs noted by your child's doctor. Antibiotics and a tetanus may be given to help prevent infection in the wound.
Do not try to remove the stitches. Some stitches dissolve while others require removal by a medical professional.
Some general guidelines for caring for lacerations with stitches or Steri-Strips include the following:
- Keep the area clean and dry.
- Carefully follow the doctor's instructions for care of the wound.
- Avoid activity that may cause the wound to open.
- Look for signs of infection, including increased warmth, swelling, redness, drainage or pain.
- Observe the stitches to make sure they are intact and keeping the wound edges together.
- Return for follow-up care, as advised by your doctor.
- Once the wound has healed, use sunscreen on sunny days to help protect the growth of new skin.
- Steri-Strips are generally left in place until they begin to loosen and will eventually fall off after a few days.