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Laceration, Ambulatory Care

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.

Common symptoms include the following:

  • Injury or wound to skin and tissue of any shape size that looks like a cut, tear, or gash
  • Edges of the wound may be close together or wide apart
  • The injury may hurt, bleed, bruise, or swell
  • Lacerations in certain areas of the body, such as the scalp, may bleed a lot
  • Numbness around the wound
  • Decreased movement in an area below the wound

Seek immediate care for the following symptoms:

  • Symptoms such as redness, pain, or fever that get worse quickly
  • Heavy bleeding or bleeding that does not stop after 10 minutes of holding firm, direct pressure over the wound

Treatment for a laceration

includes care to stop any bleeding. Your healthcare provider will stop the bleeding by applying pressure to the wound. He may need to check your wound for foreign objects and clean it to decrease the chance of infection. You may be given medicine to numb the area and decrease pain. Your laceration may be closed with stitches, staples, tissue glue, or medical strips. Some lacerations may heal better without stitches. Ask your healthcare provider if you need a tetanus shot.

Care for a laceration:

  • Keep the wound dry for the first 24 to 48 hours or as directed. Wash your hands with soap and warm water before and after you care for your wound. 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 do so.
  • Leave your bandage on as long as directed. Bandages keep your wound clean and protected. They can also prevent swelling. 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.
  • Gently clean with soap and water 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.
  • Keep the area clean and dry if your wound was closed with wound tape. You may have wound tape or medical strips to hold your wound closed. The strips will usually fall off on their own after several days.
  • Do not use any ointments or lotions on the area if your wound was closed with tissue glue. 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.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

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

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 caregivers 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.

© 2016 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

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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