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Finger Laceration

AMBULATORY CARE:

A finger laceration

is a deep cut in your skin. It is often caused by a sharp object, such as a knife, or blunt force to your finger. Your blood vessels, bones, joints, tendons, or nerves may also be injured.

Signs and symptoms:

Your symptoms may depend on whether nerves, tendons, or deeper tissues were injured. You may have any of the following:

  • A cut, tear, or gash in your finger
  • Bleeding, swelling, or pain
  • Numbness or tingling in your finger
  • Trouble moving your finger

Seek care immediately if:

  • Your wound comes apart.
  • Blood soaks through your bandage.
  • You have severe pain in your finger or hand.
  • Your finger is pale and cold.
  • You have sudden trouble moving your finger.
  • Your swelling suddenly gets worse.
  • You have red streaks on your skin coming from your wound.

Contact your healthcare provider or hand specialist if:

  • You have new numbness or tingling.
  • Your finger feels warm, looks swollen or red, and is draining pus.
  • You have a fever.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Treatment for a finger laceration

will depend on how large and deep the laceration is. It also depends on whether you have damage to deeper tissues. You may need any of the following:

  • Pressure may be applied to stop any bleeding.
  • Wound cleaning may be needed to remove dirt or debris. This will decrease the risk of infection. Your healthcare provider may need to look in your laceration for foreign objects or damage to deeper tissues. Before your laceration is cleaned and checked, you may be given medicine to numb the area. You may also be given medicine to help you relax.
  • Wound closure with stitches, medical glue, or Steri-Strips™ may be needed. These help the wound close and heal. A splint may be placed over your stitches, glue, or Steri-Strips. This will help decrease stress on the wound and prevent it from coming apart.

  • Medicine may be given to treat pain or decrease your risk for infection. You may also be given a tetanus shot. Your healthcare provider will decide if you need a tetanus shot. Wounds at high risk for tetanus infection include wounds with dirt or saliva in them. Tell your healthcare provider if you have had the tetanus vaccine or a booster within the last 5 years.
  • Surgery may be needed to clean your wound and remove foreign objects. Surgery may also be needed to repair injuries to tendons, nerves, or bones.

Self-care:

  • Apply ice on your finger for 15 to 20 minutes every hour or as directed. Use an ice pack, or put crushed ice in a plastic bag. Cover it with a towel before you apply it to your skin. Ice helps prevent tissue damage and decreases swelling and pain.
  • Elevate your hand above the level of your heart as often as you can. This will help decrease swelling and pain. Prop your hand on pillows or blankets to keep it elevated comfortably.
  • Wear your splint as directed. A splint will decrease movement and stress on your wound. The splint may help your wound heal faster. Ask your healthcare provider how to apply and remove a splint.
  • Apply ointments to decrease scarring. Do not apply ointments until your healthcare provider says it is okay. You may need to wait until your wound is healed. Ask which ointment to buy and how often to use it.

Wound care:

  • Do not get your wound wet until your healthcare provider says it is okay. Do not soak your hand in water. Do not go swimming until your healthcare provider says it is okay. When your healthcare provider says it is okay, carefully wash around the wound with soap and water. Let soap and water run over your wound. Gently pat the area dry or allow it to air dry.
  • Change your bandages when they get wet, dirty, or after washing. Apply new, clean bandages as directed. Do not apply elastic bandages or tape too tightly. Do not put powders or lotions on your wound.
  • Apply antibiotic ointment as directed. Your healthcare provider may give you antibiotic ointment to put over your wound if you have stitches. If you have Strips-Strips™ over your wound, let them dry up and fall off on their own. If they do not fall off within 14 days, gently remove them. If you have glue over your wound, do not remove or pick at it. If your glue comes off, do not replace it with glue that you have at home.
  • Check your wound every day for signs of infection. Signs of infection include swelling, redness, or pus.

Follow up with your healthcare provider or hand specialist in 2 days:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Learn more about Finger Laceration (Ambulatory Care)

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