At any stage of life it’s common to sustain a laceration to your skin. Often caused by sharp instruments such as a knife, it can be due to a larger blunt injury also.
After making sure the injured person is otherwise okay, and there are no more serious issues at hand (like a head injury or broken bones), apply a clean towel and firm pressure for 10 minutes if there is ongoing bleeding.
If the bleeding stops, or there was not much bleeding, make sure the wound looks clean. Is there any dirt or debris inside? This needs to be cleaned out and often just rinsing under tap water is sufficient (and safe).
Small, superficial lacerations can usually be dressed with a clean bandage from a first aid kit or a pharmacy.
If the laceration is wide and won’t come together easily, or looks deep, then it’s best to see a doctor.
If there is significant bleeding that continues despite firm pressure, or of the bleeding pulsates – then call an ambulance on 000.
If there is worry that there’s a head or neck injury at the same time, or anything underlying is injured like a bone or tendon – head to hospital.
It’s important to note when you may have been last immunised against tetanus.
A booster often lasts 10 years and protects against most simple clean lacerations and injuries. However if your laceration occurs on a dirty object (rusty nail) or on a place like a construction site, farm, in the woods or an abattoir – then your vaccine would give 5 years of good protection and you’ll also need a booster.
Some grazes just need to be protected. This avoids the wound getting infected or irritated, and allows the skin to heal without being interrupted.
Depending on how the wound looks and its location it can be a simple dry dressing, a waterproof dressing, or a medication impregnated dressing.
Sometimes medicated ointment or gel is applied to facilitate healing and avoid scarring.
Simple lacerations that are fairly close, but don’t quite need stitches can be approximated using tension strips. Steristrips are placed over one end, the wound brought together, then the strips placed on the other end. Sometimes special tinctures are used to help them hold this tension.
Some wounds are in a location that does really well with skin glue. If the wound is fairly superficial, straight edged, and there isn’t a lot of tension or movement – then skin glue is perfect. This is placed over a closed wound, and not in the wound. It acts like sutures and a dressing, and begins to come off over about 5 days.
Wounds that are a little deeper, less regular in shape or size, or don’t come together without added support, or are in an area that has a lot of movement – these require the help of sutures.
Often non absorbable sutures are used to bring the wound together, and these are removed in 7-10 days depending on the area and the wound size.
If you’ve injured yourself, give us a call and let the reception staff know what has happened. If it’s urgent we’ll try fit you in as soon as possible. It’s best to get lacerations looked after as soon as they’ve happened to make sure everything is ok.
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