Laceration: How to Minimize Scarring

A laceration is a cut through one or more layers of the skin. Cuts heal as the edges of the cut grow together and heal. After the cut heals, the skin may not look exactly the same. The mark left behind is called a scar. Scars are a natural part of the healing process. They are hard to avoid. How much you may scar depends on the depth of the cut, its location on your body, your age, and how your skin heals. Some people tend to heal with more scarring than others. Most scars fade and become less noticeable over time. You can take steps to help this process along.

NOTE: Please inform the staff of your last tetanus shot and if your wound was caused by a rusty or dirty object.

What you can do

The tips below can help reduce scarring as your wound heals.

  • Keep the wound clean. Unless you are told to keep the area dry, gently wash the area with mild soap and water. You don't need to use antibacterial soap. 

  • Keep the wound moist. Apply petroleum jelly to the wound to keep it moist and prevent a scab from forming. Scabs lengthen the time it takes a wound to heal.

  • Cover the wound. Use a non-adhesive bandage or gauze pad with paper tape. Change the bandage daily or if it gets wet or dirty.

  • Try hydrating or silicone gel sheets. These dressings keep the wound moist and may help it heal faster with less scarring. They may be useful for larger wounds, scrapes, sores, burns, or wounds with persistent redness. Ask your healthcare provider whether you should use this product on your wound.

  • If you have stitches (sutures), follow your healthcare provider's instructions. Care for the wound as instructed. Also, return to have stitches removed on time. If you wait, scarring might be worse.

  • Use sunscreen. Once the wound heals, apply sunscreen to the area daily. Sun may cause the scar to be more visible and discolored.

  • Once the wound heals, there is some evidence that over-the-counter scar creams can reduce the appearance of a scar.

Follow up

Make a follow-up appointment as directed by our staff. If you are advised to see a specialist or you have concerns about scarring, please contact a dermatologist.

When to seek medical advice

When to seek medical advice

  • Call your health care provider right away if any of these occur:

  • Shaking chills or fever above 100.4°F (38°C)

  • Bleeding that soaks the dressing

  • Pink fluid weeping from the wound

  • Increased drainage from the wound or drainage that is yellow, yellow-green, or has a foul odor

  • Increased swelling, pain, or redness in the skin around the wound

  • A change in the color or size of the wound

  • Increased fatigue

  • Loss of appetite

  • Sutures pulling away from the wound or pulling apart

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