A cut is a smooth wound which breaks the skin. Most people have experienced a minor cut. Lacerations can be deeper with a more irregular shape and often have jagged edges with possible bruising or bleeding. A deep cut or laceration can affect tendons, muscles, ligaments, nerves, blood vessels, or bone. Proper treatment reduces the risk of infection, scarring, and further complications.
A cut or laceration can happen when skin comes into contact with a sharp object, such as a knife or shard of glass, or blunt force which tears the skin. This usually occurs without warning and during normal daily activities such as cooking, cleaning, operating machinery, or playing sports.
Cuts are usually obvious, both visually and symptomatically. In many cases, tissue injury is minimal. Severe lacerations may extend through the skin into muscle, bone, or internal organs.
In addition to usually seeing a cut when it happens, symptoms may include:
Seek treatment from a physician if you experience any of the following:
Some minor cuts and lacerations can be treated at home. Others require treatment from a health care provider, especially if the wound is deep and bleeding cannot be stopped. Severe cuts and lacerations may require sutures or other treatments to close the wound. You may also need a tetanus shot and/or antibiotics to prevent bacterial infection if the injury involves a deep puncture wound or the wound is dirty.
For minor wounds, practice the following home care:
Contact a health care provider if:
Patient First treats many conditions at our urgent care centers including cuts and lacerations. You can visit any Patient First center from 8am to 8pm, any day of the week – no appointment is needed
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