Hand Laceration (Child)  

A laceration is a cut through the skin. Your child has a cut on the hand. A deep wound often requires stitches (sutures) or staples. 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. Your child may also be given a tetanus shot. This may be given if your child is not up-to-date on this vaccination and the object that caused the cut may carry tetanus.

Home care

  • Follow all instructions for any prescribed medicines.

    • The healthcare provider may prescribe an antibiotic taken as a pill or liquid. This is to help prevent infection. Be sure your child takes the medicine as directed until it is gone, even if your child is feeling better or the healthcare provider says to stop.

    • The healthcare provider may prescribe medicines for pain. Give these to your child as directed.

  • Follow the 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 is 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.

  • Explain to your child in an age-appropriate way what you are doing as you care for the wound. Let your child help when possible. For example, let him or her hand you the towel or pat the area dry.

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

  • Caring for stitches or staples: Once it's OK to get the wound wet, clean the wound daily. First remove the bandage. Then wash the area gently with soap and warm water, or as directed by the 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. Unless told not to cover the wound, put on a new bandage.

  • Caring for skin glue: Don’t put 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. 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, pat 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's removed.

  • Once the wound can get wet, have your child take showers or sponge baths. Don't submerge the cut 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 can occur.

Follow-up care

Follow up with your child’s healthcare provider, or as advised. Make a follow-up appointment to have stitches or staples removed.

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 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 (38ºC) or higher, or as directed by your child's provider

  • Chills

  • Stitches or staples coming apart or falling out, or surgical tape falling off before 7 days

  • Wound edges reopening

  • Wound changing colors

  • Numbness or weakness in the affected hand 

  • Decreased movement of the hand

© 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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