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Laceration in Children

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Jun 6, 2022.

What is a laceration?

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

What are the signs and symptoms of a laceration?

  • 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
  • Pain, bleeding, bruising, or swelling
  • Numbness around the wound
  • Decreased movement in an area below the wound

How is a laceration diagnosed?

Your child's healthcare provider will examine the laceration. Tell the provider how your child got the laceration. An x-ray, ultrasound, or CT scan may be done to check for foreign objects in the wound. Foreign objects include metal, gravel, and glass. The tests may also show damage to deeper tissues. Your child may be given contrast liquid to help the injured area show up better in the pictures. Tell the healthcare provider if your child has ever had an allergic reaction to contrast liquid.

How will my child's laceration be treated?

The treatment your child will need depends on how large and deep the laceration is, and where it is located. It also depends on whether your child has damage to deeper tissues. Your child may need any of the following:

  • Wound cleaning may be needed to remove dirt or debris. This will decrease the chance of infection. Your child's healthcare provider may need to look in your child's laceration for foreign objects. He or she may give your child medicine to numb the area and decrease pain. The provider may also give your child medicine to help him or her relax.
  • Wound closure with stitches, staples, tissue glue, or medical strips may be needed. These may help the wound heal and prevent infection. Your child's healthcare provider may need to give him or her medicine to numb the area and decrease pain. The provider may also give your child medicine to help him or her relax. Stitches may decrease the amount of scarring your child has. Some lacerations may heal better without stitches.

  • Medicine to treat pain or prevent infection may be given. Your child may also be given a tetanus shot. Wounds at high risk for tetanus infection include wounds caused by a bite, or that contain dirt. Your child may need a tetanus shot within 72 hours of getting a laceration. Tell your child's healthcare provider if your child has had the tetanus vaccine or a booster within the last 5 years.

When should I seek immediate care?

  • 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.

When should I call my child's doctor?

  • 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.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your child's care. Learn about your child's health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your child's healthcare providers to decide what care you want for your child. 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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Further information

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