Fingertip Amputation (Open Treatment)

You have cut the tip of your finger partially or completely off. For this type of injury, it's best to let the wound heal on its own by growing new skin from the sides. Depending on the size of the wound, it will take from 2 to 6 weeks for the wound to fill in with new skin. Once healed, you should regain most feeling in the new skin. 

Home care

The following guidelines will help you care for your wound at home:

  • If a numbing medicine was used on your finger, it will usually wear off in 1 to 6 hours. But some medicines can take 12 to 24 hours to wear off. If you start having pain after this time, take the pain medicine you were prescribed as directed. If none was prescribed, you can take an over-the-counter pain reliever. Talk with your healthcare provider before using these medicines if you have chronic liver or kidney disease, or if you have had a stomach ulcer or digestive bleeding.

  • Keep the injured hand elevated as much as possible during the first 2 days to reduce swelling and pain.

  • Keep the bandage clean and dry. If the dressing stays on longer than 2 days, it will stick to the wound. Unless, you have a healthcare provider appointment in 2 days, change the bandage as described below.

  • If you were prescribed antibiotics to prevent infection, take them as directed until they are gone, or you are told to stop.

  • If a special synthetic device was applied to your fingertip to stop the bleeding, don't remove this piece. Doing so may cause you to bleed again. Allow it to fall off on its own. You may remove the bandages around this however. Your healthcare provider will tell you if they are using such a device. 

  • If the dressing sticks to the wound, loosen it by gently wetting the portion of the dressing that is stuck with some drops of water. 

  • After removing the dressing, clean any blood-stained areas around the wound with soap and water. Then apply an antibiotic ointment if recommended.

  • Use extra gauze dressing for the first 2 days to protect the wound from further injury. Cover with a nonstick gauze pad or wrap with bandage gauze. After that, if your wound is small and not too painful, a large stretch bandage is OK to use.

  • You may shower as usual, but keep the dressing dry by using a small plastic bag over the hand, rubber-banded at the wrist. You can also use a rubber glove like the kind you might wash dishes with. Remember to rubber band the glove at the wrist and forearm. Don't soak your hand in water (no baths or swimming) until your healthcare provider says it's OK.

Follow-up care

Follow up with your healthcare provider as advised. If X-rays were taken, you will be told of any new finding that may affect your care.

When to seek medical advice

Call your healthcare provider right away if any of these occur:

  • Bleeding not controlled by direct pressure

  • Increasing pain in the wound

  • Redness or swelling around the wound

  • Pus or fluid coming from the wound or foul odor 

  • Fever of 100.4ºF (38ºC) or higher, or as directed by your healthcare provider

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