Old Laceration: Not Sutured (Child)

A laceration is a cut through the skin. If it's deep, it usually needs stitches. But, if a cut stays open for too long, the risk of infection increases. In your child's case, too much time has passed to be able to stitch the cut. The danger of infection from stitching at this time is too high. 

If the wound is spread open, it will heal from the bottom and sides. This may take up to a month or longer, depending on the size of the opening. Your child may have a visible scar. You can discuss revision of the scar with your child's healthcare provider at a later time.

Your child may need a tetanus vaccine, depending on your child's age, type of wound, and vaccine status.

Home care

These guidelines will help you care for your child 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.

  • Clean the wound daily:

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

    • Ask the healthcare provider whether to apply ointment to the wound. Reapply a fresh bandage.

    • Remove the bandage so your child can bathe. Don't let your child do anything that may reinjure the wound.

  • 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.

  • If the healthcare provider prescribes medicines to prevent infection or for pain, follow the instructions for giving these medicines to your child.

  • Check the wound daily for signs of infection listed below.

Follow-up care

Follow up with your child's healthcare provider, or as advised.

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. Healthcare 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 your child's healthcare provider right away if any of these occur:

  • Wound bleeding not controlled by direct pressure

  • Signs of infection. This includes increasing pain in the wound, increasing wound redness or swelling, or pus or bad odor coming from the wound.

  • Fever of 100.4°F (38.ºC) or higher, or as directed by your child's healthcare provider

  • Chills

  • Wound edges reopening

  • Wound changing color

  • Numbness around the wound 

  • Decreased movement 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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