Hand Laceration: All Closures

A laceration is a cut through the skin. Deep cuts usually require stitches. Minor cuts may be closed with surgical tape or skin adhesive. 

X-rays may be done if something may have entered the skin through the cut, such as broken glass. You may also be given a tetanus shot if you are not up to date on this vaccination and the object that cut you may carry tetanus.

Home care

  • Follow all instructions for taking medicines that your healthcare provider may prescribe.

    • Your healthcare provider may prescribe an antibiotic. This is to help prevent infection. Take the medicine every day until it's gone or you are told to stop. You should not have any left over.

    • Your healthcare provider may prescribe medicine for pain. Know how and when to take this medicine.

  • The healthcare provider may prescribe medicines for pain. Follow instructions for taking them.

  • Follow the healthcare provider’s instructions on how to care for the cut.

  • Keep the wound clean and dry. Don't get the wound wet until you are told it's OK to do so. If the bandage gets wet, remove it. Gently pat the wound dry with a clean cloth. Then put on a clean, dry bandage.

  • To help prevent infection, wash your hands with soap and water before and after caring for the wound. 

  • Caring for stitches: Once you no longer need to keep the stitches dry, clean the wound daily. First, remove the bandage. Then wash the area gently with soap and warm water, or as directed by the healthcare provider. Use a wet cotton swab to loosen and remove any blood or crust that forms. After cleaning, apply a thin layer of antibiotic ointment if advised. Then put on a new bandage unless you are told not to.

  • Caring for skin glue: Don’t put any liquid, ointment, or cream on the wound while the glue is in place. It's OK to shower but don't submerge under water for at least 7 days. Avoid activities that cause heavy sweating. Protect the wound from sunlight. Don't scratch, rub, or pick at the adhesive film. Don't place tape directly over the film. The glue should peel off by itself within 5 to 10 days. Call your provider if you have skin blistering or excessive itching.

  • Caring for surgical tape: Keep the area dry. If it gets wet, blot it dry with a clean towel. Surgical tape usually falls off within 7 to 10 days. If it has not fallen off after 10 days, you can take it off yourself. Put mineral oil or petroleum jelly on a cotton ball and gently rub the tape until it's removed.

  • Shower as usual once you can get the wound wet, but don't soak the wound in water. This means no tub baths or swimming.

  • Check the wound daily for signs of infection listed below. Even with proper treatment, a wound infection may sometimes occur.

Follow-up care

Follow up with your healthcare provider, or as advised. If you have stitches, be sure to return as directed to have them removed.

When to seek medical advice

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

  • Wound bleeding not controlled by direct pressure

  • Signs of infection, including increasing pain in the wound, increasing wound redness or swelling, or pus or bad odor coming from the wound

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

  • Chills

  • Stitches come apart or fall out or surgical tape falls off before 7 days

  • Wound edges reopen

  • Wound changes colors

  • Numbness or weakness in the affected hand 

  • Decreased movement of the hand

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