Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

Overview Symptoms infection Evaluation Treatment specialist sutures tetanus Home Care pain in adults pain in children stitches warning signs Complications Types Anatomy

Skin Laceration Home Care

Initial home care for a laceration includes:

  • Apply direct pressure to control bleeding:
    • Use a gauze or clean cloth directly on the wound.
    • Maintain constant pressure for at least 10 minutes.
    • Do not interrupt the pressure, in order to look at the wound.
  • Clean the wound:
    • Use mild soap and water.
    • Do not scrub the wound.
    • Remove dirt or foreign material from the wound.
    • Running water can help remove dirt.
  • Apply antibiotic ointment.
  • Cover the wound:
    • Use gauze or an elastic bandage.
    • Wounds to the face may be left uncovered.
  • Keep the wound clean and dry.
  • Rest the injured area.
  • Elevate the injured area.

Ongoing home care for a laceration includes:
  • Clean the skin gently:
    • 2-3 times a day
    • Use mild soap and water.
    • Do not scrub the skin.
  • Wounds to the foot need special care:
    • Clean foot wounds three to four times a day
    • Wear an open shoe.
  • Gently clean scabs on the face with a soft cloth and hydrogen peroxide:
    • Try not to cause bleeding.
  • Dry the wound gently, and completely, with a clean towel or gauze.
  • Apply an antibiotic ointment.
  • Cover the wound:
    • Use gauze or an elastic bandage.
    • Wounds to the face may be left uncovered.
  • Acetaminophen for pain
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications for pain
  • Take prescribed medications as directed.

Tetanus Considerations
A tetanus shot is necessary right away if you have not had three tetanus shots in the past.

If you have received three tetanus shots in the past, you need a tetanus shot within three days for a dirty wound.

Skin Laceration Pain in Adults

Medications used to control pain in adults with lacerations include:


Acetaminophen
  • Acetaminophen decreases fever and pain, but does not help inflammation.
  • Adult dosing is 2 regular strength (325 mg) every 4 hours or 2 extra-strength (500 mg) every 6 hours.
  • Maximum dose is 4,000 mg per day.
  • Avoid this drug if you have alcoholism, liver disease or an allergy to the drug. See the package instructions.
  • Common brand names include Tylenol, Panadol, and many others.

Aspirin

Ibuprofen

Naproxen

Ketoprofen

NSAID Precautions

Skin Laceration Pain in Children

Common medications used for pain in children with lacerations include:


Aspirin and most of the other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) are not used in children except under a doctor's care.

Acetaminophen
  • Acetaminophen decreases fever and pain, but does not help inflammation.
  • Dosing is 10-15 mg per kilogram (5-7 mg per pound) of body weight every 4-6 hours, up to the adult dose.
  • Do not exceed the maximum daily dose.
  • Acetaminophen products come in various strengths. Always follow the package instructions.
  • Avoid this drug in children with liver disease or an allergy to acetaminophen.
  • Common acetaminophen products include Tylenol, Panadol and many others.

Ibuprofen
Always follow the package instructions.

Naproxen

Skin Laceration Stitches

Home care for lacerations that required stitches or staples includes:

  • Gently dab the wound with hydrogen peroxide to remove clotted blood or drainage. Do not scrub or re-injure the wound.
  • Use hydrogen peroxide to remove scabs that form on the face only. Do not remove a clean scab that forms on other regions of the body.
  • Dry the wound gently, and completely, with a clean towel or gauze.
  • Continue to watch closely for signs of infection.
  • Apply an antibiotic ointment.
  • Cover the wound with gauze or an elastic bandage.

General 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.

Skin Laceration Warning Signs

Notify your doctor if you have a laceration and any of the following:

Continue to Skin Laceration Complications

Last Updated: Dec 17, 2010 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Skin Laceration References
  1. Hess CT. The art of skin and wound care documentation. Adv Skin Wound Care. 2005 Jan-Feb;18(1):43-53. [15714037]
  2. 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. [12101148]
  3. 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. [12204985]
  4. Norman D. The effects of age-related skin changes on wound healing rates. J Wound Care. 2004 May;13(5):199-201. [15160575]
  5. O'Dell ML. Skin and wound infections: an overview. Am Fam Physician. 1998 May 15;57(10):2424-32. [9614412]
  6. 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. [14525751]
  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. [12142655]
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