General Laceration (Child)

A laceration is a cut through the skin. If it is deep, it may need stitches (sutures) or staples to close the wound so it can heal. Minor cuts may be closed with surgical tape or skin glue. 

X-rays may be done if something may have entered the skin through the cut, such as glass or rocks. Your child may also need a tetanus shot if he or she is not up-to-date on this vaccination.

Home care

  • Follow all directions for any prescribed medicines.

    • The healthcare provider may prescribe an antibiotic to prevent infection. This medicine may be taken by mouth (oral). Or it may be a cream or ointment. Don't stop using this medicine until the prescribed course is finished or the provider tells you to stop.

    • The provider may prescribe medicines for pain. Given them to your child as directed.

  • Keep the wound clean and dry. Don't let the wound get wet until you are told it is OK to do so.

  • If a bandage was applied, leave it in place for the first 24 hours. Then change it every 24 hours or as directed. If it becomes wet or dirty, replace it sooner. Gently pat the wound dry with a clean cloth. Then put on a clean, dry bandage.

  • Caring for stitches or staples:  Once you no longer need to keep stitches or staples 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're told not to.

  • Caring for skin glue:  Don’t put any liquid, ointment, or cream on the wound while the glue is in place. Don't let your child do activities that cause heavy sweating. Protect the wound from sunlight. Keep your child from scratching, rubbing, or picking at the adhesive film. Don't place tape directly over the film. The glue should peel off in 5 to 10 days. 

  • Caring for surgical tape:  Keep the area dry. If it gets wet, blot it dry with a clean towel. Surgical tape often falls off in 7 to 10 days. If it hasn't 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 is removed.

  • Once the wound can get wet, the child may shower. Don't soak the wound in water (no tub baths or swimming).

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

Follow-up care

Follow up with your child's healthcare provider as advised. Ask the healthcare provider how long stitches should be left in place. Bring your child back to remove the stitches as directed. If dissolving stitches were used in the mouth, these should fall out or dissolve without the need for removal. If tape closures were used, you may remove them yourself when the provider advises, if they haven't fallen off on their own. If skin glue was used, the film will wear off by itself, often in about 10 days.

Special note to parents

Healthcare providers are trained to see injuries such as this in young children as a sign of possible abuse. You may be asked questions about how your child was injured. Providers are required by law to ask you these questions. This is done to protect your child. Please try to be patient.

When to get medical advice

Call the child's healthcare provider for any of the following:

  • Wound bleeding is not controlled by direct pressure

  • Signs of infection. These include pain in the wound that gets worse, redness or swelling of the wound that gets worse, pus or bad odor coming from the wound, chills, or fever of 100.4°F (38.ºC) or higher, or as directed by the provider.

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

  • Wound edges reopen

  • Wound changes colors

  • Numbness occurs around the wound 

  • Decreased movement occurs around the injured area

© 2000-2021 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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