Cuts or Lacerations

  • Stay Safe. If you are not the victim, practice universal precautions and wear personal protective equipment if available.
  • Control bleeding before anything else. Putting pressure directly on the laceration while holding it above the level of the heart for 15 minutes should be enough to stop bleeding. If not, try using pressure points. Tourniquets should be avoided unless medical care will be delayed for several hours.
  • If bleeding will not stop, call 911.
  • Once bleeding has stopped, wash the laceration with warm water and mild soap (see illustration). If bleeding starts again, repeat step two.
  • Determine if the laceration needs stitches. If victim needs stitches, proceed to the ER Doctors.
  • For smaller lacerations that do not require stitches, use antiseptic ointment and close with butterfly closures .
  • Cover the laceration with sterile gauze and tape in place or wrap with roller gauze
  • Watch for infection and change the dressing (bandages) daily. Clean the laceration each time you change the dressing. If the laceration begins to swell or drain pus – or if redness begins to radiate or streak away from the laceration – call ER Doctors.
  • Use acetaminophen or ibuprofen for pain relief.

cut refers to a skin wound with separation of the connective tissue elements. Unlike an abrasion (a wound caused by friction or scraping), none of the skin is missing the skin is just separated. A cut is typically thought of as a wound caused by a sharp object (such as a knife or a shard of glass).

The term laceration implies a torn or jagged wound. Lacerations tend to be caused by blunt trauma (such as a blow, fall, or collision). Cuts and lacerations are terms for the same condition.

The term gash can be used for more dramatic effect because it implies a longer or deeper cut.

An avulsion refers to a wound where tissue is not just separated but torn away from the body.