Trunk Laceration, All Closures

A laceration is a cut through the skin. It may be treated with stitches, staples, surgical tape, or skin glue. Treatment will depend on where on the trunk the cut is, when the injury occurred, the cause of the injury, and your risk factors. Minor cuts may be treated with surgical tape or skin glue. Deeper cuts may need stitches or staples for treatment or more than 1 form of treatment. You may need a tetanus shot if you are not up to date on your tetanus vaccine.

Home care

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

  • Keep the wound clean and dry. If a bandage was applied and it becomes wet or dirty, replace it. Otherwise, leave it in place for the first 24 hours, then change it once a day or as directed.

  • If stitches or staples were used, change the bandage daily after the first 24 hours. Each day, look at the wound for any of the warning signs listed below. After removing the bandage, wash the area with soap and water. After cleaning, keep the wound clean and dry. Talk with your healthcare provider about applying antibiotic ointment to the wound. Reapply the bandage. You may remove the bandage and shower as usual after the first 24 hours. But don't soak the area in water until the stitches or staples are removed. This means no tub baths or swimming.

  • If skin glue or surgical tapes were used, keep the area clean and dry. If it gets wet, blot it dry with a towel. Don't scratch, rub, or pick at the tape or the glue's adhesive film. Don't place tape directly over the film. Don't apply liquid, ointment, or creams to the wound while the tape or glue's film is in place. These products can loosen the tape or dissolve the glue. Don't clean the wound with peroxide and don't apply ointments. Don't do activities that cause heavy sweating until the tape or glue film has fallen off. Protect the wound from prolonged exposure to sunlight or tanning lamps. Stay away from scrubbing, soaking, or exposure to prolonged wetness, such as tub baths or swimming. Follow your provider's instructions about showering. If surgical tape was used, you may have to keep the wound dry in the shower.

  • Your provider may prescribe an antibiotic cream or ointment, or antibiotic pills. Don't stop using this medicine until you have finished the prescribed course or your provider tells you to stop. They may also prescribe medicines for pain. Follow your provider's instructions for taking these medicines. Talk with them before taking these medicines if you have liver or kidney disease. Also talk with them if you've had an ulcer or gastrointestinal bleeding.

Follow-up care

Follow up with your healthcare provider as advised. Most skin wounds heal in 5 to 10 days. But your wound may get infected despite correct treatment. Check the wound daily for the signs of infection listed below. Stitches or staples should be removed in 7 to 14 days or as advised. If surgical tape closures were used, you may be told to remove them yourself after 10 days, if they haven't fallen off by then. If skin glue was used, the film will fall off by itself in 5 to 10 days.

Call 911

Call 911 if any of these occur:

  • Shortness of breath or painful breathing

  • Back or belly (abdomen) pain that gets worse

  • Blood in the stool or urine

  • Weakness, dizziness, or fainting.

  • Bleeding not controlled by direct pressure

When to get medical care

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

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

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

  • Chills

  • If stitches or staples come apart or fall out before your next appointment

  • If the surgical tape or glue falls off before 7 days, or the wound edges re-open

© 2000-2022 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
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