Small Laceration: Not Sutured (Child)

A laceration is a cut through the skin. Because your child’s cut is small and shallow, it doesn't need to be closed with stitches (sutures) or staples.

Your child may need a tetanus shot if your child has no record of this vaccination.

Home care

  • If your child has pain, you can give them pain medicine as advised by your child’s healthcare provider.

    • Don’t give aspirin to a child younger than age 19 unless directed by your child’s provider. Taking aspirin can put your child at risk for Reye syndrome. This is a rare but very serious disorder. It most often affects the brain and the liver.

    • Don't give ibuprofen to children age 6 months or younger.

    • Don’t give your child any other medicine without first checking with the provider.

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

  • Wash your hands with soap and warm water before and after caring for your child. This is to help prevent infection.

  • Leave the original bandage in place for 24 hours. Replace it if it becomes wet or dirty. After 24 hours, change it once a day or as directed.

  • Clean the wound daily. First remove the bandage. Then wash the area gently with soap and warm water, or as directed by your child’s 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.

  • 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 instance, let your child hand you the towel or ointment, or pat the area dry.

  • Make sure your child doesn't scratch, rub, or pick at the area. A baby may need to wear scratch mittens.

  • Don't soak the cut in water. Have your child shower or take sponge baths instead of tub baths. Don’t let your child go swimming.

  • If the area gets wet, gently pat it dry with a clean cloth. Replace the wet bandage with a dry one.

  • Don't let your child do activities that may re-injure the wound.

  • Check your child’s wound daily for signs of infection listed below.

Follow-up care

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

When to get medical advice

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

  • Wound bleeding isn't 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 (38.ºC) or higher, or as directed by the child's provider

  • Chills

  • Wound changing colors

  • Numbness around the wound 

  • Decreased movement around the injured area

© 2000-2022 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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