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What is a laceration?

A laceration is a tear in the skin which results from an injury. You do not need to see a doctor if the tear does not involve the full thickness of the skin. Most minor lacerations have minimal bleeding, minimal pain and no numbness or tingling at the site. If you can see any bones or tendons or there is excessive bleeding and pain, seek medical attention immediately.

How do you treat minor lacerations?

  1. Clean the laceration site well with warm water and an antibacterial soap
  2. Apply an antibiotic ointment such as Bacitracin or Neosporin
  3. Cover the laceration with a Band-Aid or sterile gauze. Change the Band-Aid daily or when soiled. When the dressing is changed, clean the site and reapply the ointment
  4. If red streaks or drainage appear around the laceration, please contact your primary care physician immediately

If the laceration involves the full thickness of the skin, stitches may be required to close the laceration site. If stitches are placed, the wound care is as follows:

  1. Keep the site clean
  2. Apply antibiotic ointment if instructed to by your doctor
  3. Elevate the site to prevent or decrease pain, swelling and throbbing
  4. Take Tylenol or Ibuprofen for pain per the directions on the bottle
  5. Return to your doctor to have the stitches removed within 7-10 days or when asked
  6. Monitor the site for drainage or redness. If this occurs, contact your primary care physician immediately
  7. Once the stitches are removed you can apply Vitamin E to the site and massage the scar to minimize scarring

Bruising may be seen around the laceration site which is caused by blood clotting under the skin surface. Some swelling may also be noted at the site. If bruising and swelling occur, you can apply ice to the site and elevate the area above the level of the heart. If the bruising and the swelling do not improve within 24 hours, contact your primary care physician.

Remember if you have any questions or concerns, contact your doctor.

En Español

This information, although based on a thorough knowledge and careful review of current medical literature, is the opinion of doctors at The University of Texas Medical School and is presented to inform you about surgical conditions. It is not meant to contradict any information you may receive from your personal physician and should not be used to make decisions about surgical treatment. If you have any questions about the information above or your child's care, please contact our doctors.