Cut in the Skin Treatment
Treatment for a laceration may include wound irrigation, wound cleansing, and laceration repair. Additional treatment for lacerations may include a tetanus vaccine, antibiotics, and pain medications.
Treatment options for a laceration include:
- Wound irrigation
- Rinsing the wound
- Wound cleansing
- Wound exploration
- Wound debridement:
- Removal of dead or dirty tissue
- Removal of foreign bodies in the wound
- Laceration repair:
- Antibiotics for wounds
- Tetanus vaccination
- Surgery for skin lacerations:
- To remove foreign bodies or repair damaged tissue.
- Acetaminophen for pain
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications for pain:
- Ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil, Nuprin, NeoProfen)
- Ketoprofen (Actron, Orudis, Oruvail)
- Naproxen (Anaprox, Naprosyn, Aleve)
- Narcotic pain medication:
Cut in the Skin Specialist
Physicians from the following specialties evaluate and treat lacerations:
Cut in the Skin Sutures
In general, lacerations that require sutures include:
- Facial lacerations over 1/4 inch (6 mm)
- Genital lacerations over 1/4 inch (6 mm)
- Hand or foot lacerations over 1/4 inch (6 mm)
- Lacerations over 1/2 inch (1.27 cm)
Guidelines for Suture Removal
- Face: 4 to 5 days
- Scalp: 7 days
- Neck: 7 days
- Trunk: 10 days
- Extremities: 10 to 14 days
Sutures may need to stay in longer when the laceration is over a joint, or in an area that is under a lot of stress, such as the palm of the hand or sole of the foot.
Cut in the Skin Tetanus
Most children born in the US have received three tetanus shots (boosters) in the past, because these boosters are part of the usual vaccination schedule. Additional tetanus boosters are given every 10 years.
Those with lacerations who require treatment to prevent tetanus include:
- Those who have not had 3 tetanus boosters in the past need a tetanus booster after a skin wound.
- Those who have not received a tetanus booster in the past 10 years need a tetanus booster after a skin wound.
- Those who have dirty wounds need a tetanus booster if they have not received a booster in the past 5 years.
Dirty wounds include:
- Wounds that occur outdoors
- Wounds that contain dirt or foreign material
- Wounds caused by bites
- Tetanus booster:
- A tetanus booster stimulates the immune system to make antibodies against the tetanus toxin.
- A tetanus booster may be given to those who have received 3 tetanus boosters in the past.
- The tetanus booster may be given within 72 hours after the wound occurs.
- Tetanus Immune Globulin (TIG):
Tetanus Vaccine and TIG Recommendations
|History||Clean, Minor Wound||Other Wounds|
|< 3 boosters||give Td||give Td + TIG|
|3 boosters||possible Td||possible Td|
Clean and minor wounds may need a booster if it has been more than 10 years since the last tetanus vaccine. Other wounds may need a booster if it has been more than 5 years since last tetanus vaccine.
Continue to Cut in the Skin Home Care
- Hess CT. The art of skin and wound care documentation. Adv Skin Wound Care. 2005 Jan-Feb;18(1):43-53. 
- Hogg K, Carley S. Towards evidence based emergency medicine: best BETs from the Manchester Royal Infirmary. Staples or sutures for repair of scalp laceration in adults. Emerg Med J. 2002 Jul;19(4):327-8. 
- Mattick A, Clegg G, Beattie T, Ahmad T. A randomised, controlled trial comparing a tissue adhesive (2-octylcyanoacrylate) with adhesive strips (Steristrips) for paediatric laceration repair. Emerg Med J. 2002 Sep;19(5):405-7. 
- Norman D. The effects of age-related skin changes on wound healing rates. J Wound Care. 2004 May;13(5):199-201. 
- O'Dell ML. Skin and wound infections: an overview. Am Fam Physician. 1998 May 15;57(10):2424-32. 
- Singer AJ, Giordano P, Fitch JL, Gulla J, Ryker D, Chale S. Evaluation of a new high-viscosity octylcyanoacrylate tissue adhesive for laceration repair: a randomized, clinical trial. Acad Emerg Med. 2003 Oct;10(10):1134-7. 
- Singer AJ, Quinn JV, Thode HC Jr, Hollander JE; TraumaSeal Study Group. Determinants of poor outcome after laceration and surgical incision repair. Plast Reconstr Surg. 2002 Aug;110(2):429-35.