A laceration is a tear or cut in the skin, tissue, and/or muscle. They can vary in length, depth, and width. A laceration repair is the act of cleaning, preparing, and closing the wound.

Laceration Wound of the Hand
Nucleus image
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Lacerations that are shallow, small, not bleeding, and clean may not need medical care. Antibiotic ointment and a bandage may be all that is needed.

Lacerations may need medical repair if it has:

  • Exposed muscle, fat, tendon, or bone
  • Dirt and debris in the wound, may remain even after cleaning
  • Feeling as if something is in the laceration, even if you cannot see any debris
  • Bleeding continues after applying direct pressure for 10-15 minutes
  • Jagged or uneven edges
  • Depth more than 1/8 to 1/4 inch deep
  • Location on area of high stress (joints, hands, feet, chest)

Wounds may also need medical care if there is risk of tetanus. This is a bacterial infection from dirt, dust or feces. Factors that increase your risk of tetanus include a deep wound or contamination with dirt, saliva, or feces.

Medical care may also be used if there is a worry about scarring.

Note: If you are not sure if a laceration wound needs to be repaired, go to the hospital.