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Laceration in Children


A laceration is an injury to your child's skin and the soft tissue underneath it.


Return to the emergency department if:

  • Your child has heavy bleeding or bleeding that does not stop after 10 minutes of holding firm, direct pressure over the wound.
  • Your child's stitches come apart.

Call your child's doctor if:

  • Your child has a fever or chills.
  • Your child's pain gets worse, even after taking medicine for pain.
  • Your child's wound is red, warm, or swollen.
  • Your child has white or yellow drainage from the wound that smells bad.
  • Your child has red streaks on his or her skin near the wound.
  • You have questions or concerns about your child's condition or care.


Your child may need any of the following:

  • Prescription pain medicine may be given to your child. Ask how to safely give this medicine to your child.
  • NSAIDs , such as ibuprofen, help decrease swelling, pain, and fever. This medicine is available with or without a doctor's order. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems in certain people. If your child takes blood thinner medicine, always ask if NSAIDs are safe for him or her. Always read the medicine label and follow directions. Do not give these medicines to children under 6 months of age without direction from your child's healthcare provider.
  • Acetaminophen decreases pain and fever. It is available without a doctor's order. Ask how much to give your child and how often to give it. Follow directions. Read the labels of all other medicines your child uses to see if they also contain acetaminophen, or ask your child's doctor or pharmacist. Acetaminophen can cause liver damage if not taken correctly.
  • Antibiotics help treat or prevent a bacterial infection.
  • Do not give aspirin to children under 18 years of age. Your child could develop Reye syndrome if he takes aspirin. Reye syndrome can cause life-threatening brain and liver damage. Check your child's medicine labels for aspirin, salicylates, or oil of wintergreen.
  • Give your child's medicine as directed. Contact your child's healthcare provider if you think the medicine is not working as expected. Tell him or her if your child is allergic to any medicine. Keep a current list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs your child takes. Include the amounts, and when, how, and why they are taken. Bring the list or the medicines in their containers to follow-up visits. Carry your child's medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Care for your child's wound as directed:

  • Your child's wound should not get wet until his or her healthcare provider says it is okay. Do not soak your child's wound in water. Do not allow your child to go swimming until his or her healthcare provider says it is okay. Carefully wash around the wound with soap and water. It is okay to let soap and water run over the wound. Gently pat the area dry or allow it to air dry.
  • Change your child's bandages when they get wet, dirty, or after washing. Apply new, clean bandages as directed. Do not apply elastic bandages or tape too tight. Do not put powders or lotions over your child's wound.
  • Apply antibiotic ointment as directed. You may be told to apply antibiotic ointment on your child's wound if he or she has stitches. If your child has strips of tape over the incision, let them dry up and fall off on their own. If they do not fall off within 14 days, gently remove them. If your child has glue over the wound, do not remove or pick at it when it starts to heal and itches.
  • Check your child's wound every day for signs of infection such as swelling, redness, or pus.
  • Apply ice on your child's wound for 15 to 20 minutes every hour or as directed. Use an ice pack, or put crushed ice in a plastic bag. Cover the ice pack with a towel before applying it to the wound. Ice helps prevent tissue damage and decreases swelling and pain.
  • Have your child use a splint as directed. A splint may be used for lacerations over joints or areas of your child's body that bend. A splint will decrease movement and stress on your child's wound. It may also help it heal faster. Ask your child's healthcare provider how to apply and remove a splint.
  • Decrease scarring of your child's wound by applying ointments as directed. Do not apply ointments until your child's healthcare provider says it is okay. You may need to wait until your child's wound is healed. Ask which ointment to buy and how often to use it. After your child's wound is healed, use sunscreen over the area when he or she is out in the sun. You should do this for at least 6 months to 1 year after your child's injury.

Follow up with your child's doctor as directed:

Your child may need to return in 3 to 14 days to have stitches or staples removed. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

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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.

Further information

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