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Finger Laceration

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Feb 6, 2023.

What is a finger laceration?

A finger laceration is a deep cut in your skin. Your blood vessels, bones, joints, tendons, or nerves may also be injured.

What are the signs and symptoms of a finger laceration?

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

How is a finger laceration diagnosed?

Tell your healthcare provider how you got your laceration. Your healthcare provider will examine your laceration and decide what treatment you need. An x-ray, ultrasound, or CT may show foreign objects in the wound. Foreign objects include metal, gravel, and glass. The tests may also show damage to deeper tissues. You may be given contrast liquid to help the injured area show up better in the pictures. Tell the healthcare provider if you have ever had an allergic reaction to contrast liquid.

How is a finger laceration treated?

Treatment depends 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.

What can I do to manage my symptoms?

  • 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.

When should I seek immediate care?

  • 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.

When should I call my doctor or hand specialist?

  • 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.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. 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.

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