How are lacerations (cuts) treated?

Melissa Taylor
Emergency Room Nursing

Lacerations should have pressure held at the site immediately to stop bleeding. When bleeding has stopped or slowed down significantly, the site should be cleaned with warm, soap and water, or at least rinsed with clean water. A healthcare provider may numb the area surrounding the wound with local anesthetic to reduce pain, and then rinse the laceration with a mild salt water solution called “normal saline,” to clean.

Depending on the nature of the laceration, i.e. with broken glass, metal, etc. you may be recommended for an x-ray of the affected area to help visualize any chards of glass or broken pieces of debris in the wound invisible to the naked eye. A physician, advanced practice nurse or physician assistant may attempt to remove the debris once located. After these procedures, the provider may close the wound with suture (stitches), staples, or maybe “skin glue,” depending on the location of the wound. An extremely deep laceration may require packing with thin strips of gauze to fill in the depth/gap and no closure would be attempted at that time. The wound may then be dressed with antibiotic ointment, and a dry, sterile dressing. Cuts made by unsterile objects put you at risk for a blood and central nervous system infection called Tetanus, or, “lockjaw.” If you have not had a tetanus immunization booster within the past 5 years of your laceration, you would be recommended to receive a booster to try and prevent tetanus infection.


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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.