Treating Lacerations or Abrasions
Laceration or abrasion? Let us evaluate whether stitches, glue, or just wound care is needed.
Suture is made of various materials designed to either slowly absorb over time (usually placed internally) or be removed in days to weeks. This is the traditional method to repair deep wounds.
- Pro: can be used on most wounds, best method to repair deep wounds
- Cons: discomfort due to use of local anesthetic
Skin Glue (“dermabond”)
Human grade glue that is best used for smaller wounds that isn’t under much tension.
- Pro: quick, painless thus good choice for children
- Cons: not ideal on deep or gaping wounds
Medical-grade staples are ideal for straight lacerations. Because the cosmetic results are not as good as suture or glue, staples are avoided on the face and neck. In the urgent care, staples are typically restricted to bleeding scalp wounds.
- Pro: quick
- Cons: uncomfortable, restricted use to scalp
How to Treat Minor Cuts and Scrapes
Cover the Cut or Scrape
Once the bleeding has stopped and the wound is clean, you should cover it with a sterile bandage or gauze pad and tape.
If the cut is small and is in an area that won’t get dirty and be rubbed by your clothes, you may decide to leave it uncovered. But for most wounds, it’s a good idea to cover them to help prevent infection or reopening the wound.
Change the dressing or bandage every day or more often if it gets dirty.
Antibiotic ointment can make infection less likely. Using a thin layer of antibiotic ointment before applying the bandage or gauze dressing will help keep cuts and scrapes clean and moist, and help curb scarring.
Watch for Signs of Infection
If the wound isn’t healing or you notice any of these signs of infection, call your doctor right away:
- Redness, swelling, and warmth
- Increasing pain
- Pus or drainage from the cut
- Red streaks around the wound
When the Wound Starts to Heal
Small cuts and scrapes will form a scab and heal within a few days. The scab helps protect the wound from dirt and germs while new skin grows underneath. Once a scab has formed, you may not need to use a bandage anymore.
Although a healing wound or scab will itch, it’s best not to scratch or pick at scabs. The scab will fall off on its own without your help, revealing the new skin underneath.
Puncture Wound Treatment
CALL 911 IF THE PERSON IS SERIOUSLY INJURED OR A PUNCTURE WOUND:
- Bleeds excessively
- Spurts blood
- Does not stop bleeding after 10 minutes of firm pressure
- Is to the chest, abdomen, or neck
- Is accompanied by any emergency symptoms: severe pain, fast breathing or trouble breathing, vomiting, dizziness, unconsciousness
- Is to the eye or in the throat. Leave the object in place. Keep the person calm.
Call or see a health care provider immediately if:
- The object that caused the puncture wound cannot be easily removed
- The puncture wound is deep, on the face, or touching bone
- The wound is visibly dirty
- The wound is an animal or human bite
- The wound occurred through the bottom of a shoe — stepping on a nail, for example
1. Remove the Object if You Can
- If the object that caused the puncture is small and you can easily remove it, do so.
2. Stop the Bleeding
- Apply firm, direct pressure with sterile gauze or clean cloth until bleeding stops.
3. Clean and Protect the Wound
- Rinse the wound under clean water for several minutes. Then wash the area with mild soap and water and rinse again.
- Apply an antibiotic cream.
- Use a sterile bandage to protect the puncture wound from dirt or further injury.
4. Treat Pain
- For pain, give ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or acetaminophen (Tylenol). Check with the doctor first, though, if you have any medical conditions or take any other medicines.
- See a healthcare provider for any signs of infection: redness, increasing pain, swelling, or pus at the site.
- Ask the health care provider if a tetanus shot is needed.
- Some wounds may need antibiotics. Ask the healthcare provider.