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WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:
A laceration is an injury to the skin and the soft tissue underneath it. Lacerations happen when you are cut or hit by something. They can happen anywhere on the body. Your healthcare provider may close your laceration with stitches, staples, tissue glue, or medical strips. These may help to keep the wound from getting infected. Stitches may decrease the amount of scarring you have. Some lacerations may heal better without stitches.
- Pain medicine: You may be given medicine to take away or decrease pain. Do not wait until the pain is severe before you take your medicine.
- Take your medicine as directed. Call your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.
Care for your wound:
Wash your hands with soap and warm water before and after you care for your wound. You may need to keep the wound dry for the first 24 to 48 hours. After that, gently clean the wound once or twice a day with cool water. Use soap to clean around the wound, but try not to get any on the wound edges. Do not use alcohol or hydrogen peroxide to clean your wound unless you are directed to.
- If your wound is covered with a bandage: Bandages keep your wound clean and protected. They can also prevent swelling. Leave your bandage on as long as directed. Ask when and how to change your bandage. Be careful not to wrap the bandage or tape too tightly. This could cut off blood flow and cause more injury.
- If your wound was closed with staples or stitches: Remove the bandage over the area and gently clean with soap and water 24 to 48 hours after your injury. Pat the area dry and cover again with a clean dressing.
- If your wound was closed with wound tape: You may have wound tape or medical strips to hold your wound closed. Keep the area clean and dry. The strips will usually fall off on their own after several days.
- If your wound was closed with tissue glue: Your wound may be closed with tissue glue. Do not use any ointments or lotions on the area. You may shower, but do not swim or soak in a bathtub. Gently pat the area dry after you take a shower. Do not pick at or scrub the glue area. If the glue comes off too soon, call your primary healthcare provider. Never use your own glue to put the wound back together.
Decrease your amount of scarring:
Antibiotic or other ointment on your wound may decrease the amount of scarring that you have. Ask which ointment to buy and how often to use it. The skin of your wound area may turn a different color if it is exposed to direct sunlight. After your wound is healed, use sunscreen over the area when you are out in the sun. You should do this for at least 6 months to 1 year after your injury. Some wounds scar less if they are covered while they heal.
Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:
You may need to follow up in 24 to 48 hours to have your wound checked for infection. You will need to return in 3 to 14 days if you have stitches or staples so they can be removed. Care for your wound as directed to prevent infection and help it heal. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.
Contact your healthcare provider if:
- Your wound splits open, or your tape comes off.
- Your wound is very painful.
- Your skin forms blisters, or you have a dark lump under the skin.
- Your wound is not healing, or you think there is an object in the wound.
- You have a fever and the wound is painful, warm, or swollen. The wound area may be red, or fluid may come out of it.
- Your skin around the wound is numb.
Return to the emergency department if:
- Your symptoms, such as redness, pain, and fever get worse very quickly.
- You have heavy bleeding or bleeding that does not stop after 10 minutes of holding firm, direct pressure over the wound.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.