Infected Laceration, Not Stitched

A laceration is a cut through the skin. The cut has become infected. Because of the infection, and the amount of time that has passed since injury, the wound can't be closed. It will heal best if left open and cleaned daily. It will seal over by growing new tissue from the sides and the bottom of the wound. You will probably have a scar after it has healed. 

Oral antibiotic medicine may be prescribed to treat the infection.

Home care

  • If antibiotics have been prescribed, take them exactly as directed. Don't t stop taking them until they are gone or you are told to stop, even if you feel better. 

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

  • Unless otherwise instructed, change the bandage twice a day for the first few days, until the drainage stops. Then change it once a day. Change the bandage if it becomes wet, stained with wound fluid, or dirty.

  • Clean the wound daily:

    • After removing the bandage, gently wash the area with soap and water. Use a wet cotton swab to loosen and remove any blood or crust that forms.

    • After cleaning, apply a thin layer of over-the-counter antibiotic ointment if advised. Reapply a fresh bandage.

  • Follow the healthcare provider's instructions for keeping the wound dry. You may be given restrictions on showering or tub baths.

  • If the bandage gets wet, remove it. Gently pat the wound dry with a clean cloth, then replace the wet bandage with a dry one.

  • Don't scratch, rub, or pick at the area.

  • Wash your hands with soap and clean, running water before and after cleaning the wound or changing the bandage.

Follow-up care

Follow up with your healthcare provider, or as advised. It's important to follow up to make sure the infection is getting better.

When to seek medical advice

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

  • Symptoms don't start to improve or they get worse

  • Red streaks spread from the wound

  • Drainage from the wound gets worse

  • Pain gets worse

  • Fever of100.4°F (38°C) or higher, or as directed by your healthcare provider

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