Trunk Laceration (Child)  

A trunk laceration is a cut in the skin of the torso. It can bleed, and cause redness and swelling. A cut that is not deep may be closed with surgical tape or skin glue. A deep cut may be closed with stitches or staples. Your child may also need a tetanus shot. This is given if the cause of the laceration may cause tetanus, and if your child is not up to date on the tetanus vaccine.

Home care

The healthcare provider may prescribe antibiotics. These are to prevent infection. They may be pills or a liquid for your child to take by mouth. Or they may be in a cream or ointment to put on the skin. Use the antibiotics as instructed every day until they are gone. Don’t stop giving them to your child if he or she feels better. The provider may also prescribe medicine for pain. Follow all instructions for giving this medicine to your child. Don’t give your child aspirin unless you are told to by the healthcare provider.

General care

  • Follow your healthcare provider’s instructions for how to care for the laceration.

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

  • Change bandages or dressings as directed. Replace any bandage that becomes wet or dirty.

  • Don’t soak the laceration in water for 7 to 10 days. Give a baby a sponge bath. If your child is old enough, have him or her take showers instead of baths during this time. Use a clean cloth to gently pat the area dry if it gets wet.

  • Make sure your child does not scratch, rub, or pick at the area. Use scratch mittens on a baby. Don't rub the area when holding the baby.

Care for specific closures:

  • Stitches or staples. Clean the wound daily. Wash your hands with soap and water. Remove the bandage. Wash the skin area with soap and water. 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 given. Put a clean bandage on the area.

  • Surgical tape. Keep the area dry. If it gets wet, blot it dry with a clean cloth. Skin tape will often fall off within 7 to 10 days. If it does not fall off after 10 days, you can remove it. Use mineral oil or petroleum jelly on a cotton ball to gently rub the adhesive.

  • Skin glue. Don't apply liquid, ointment, or creams to the wound while the glue is in place. Make sure your child doesn't do activities that cause sweating until the glue has fallen off. Protect the wound from sunlight. The glue should peel off within 5 to 10 days. If it doesn't, use petroleum jelly or an ointment to help remove the glue.

Follow-up care

Follow up with your child’s healthcare provider, or as advised. Return to have stitches or staples removed, if instructed.

Call 911

Call 911 if any of these occur:

  • Shortness of breath

  • Blood in the stool or urine

  • Weakness, dizziness, or fainting

When to seek medical advice

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

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

  • Wound reopens

  • Pain gets worse

  • Stitches or staples come apart or fall out too soon

  • Warmth, redness, swelling, or foul-smelling fluid leaking from the wound

  • Pain when breathing

  • Back or abdominal pain gets worse

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