Caring for lacerations

Lacerations are made by tearing or caused by strong, short-lasting blunt force. Follow the treatment steps below, which are based on recommendations by the Department of Health of Western Australia:

Graphical representation of hand washing as a wound treatment step in the Leukoplast wound care advisor.

1. Wash your hands:

“Prior to cleaning or dressing the wound, ensure your hands are washed to prevent contamination and infection of the wound.” 1
Graphical representation of a running tap to illustrate the rinsing of the wound as a wound treatment step in the Leukoplast wound care advisor.

2. Rinse the wound

“Gently rinse the wound with clean, lukewarm water to cleanse and remove any fragments of dirt, e.g. gravel, as this will reduce the risk of infection.” 1
Graphic representation of a hand absorbing fluid with a cloth to illustrate drying of the wound as a wound treatment step.

3. Dry the skin

“Gently pat dry the surrounding skin with a clean pad or towel.” 1
Graphic representation of a hand pressing a compress on a wound to illustrate the stopping of the bleeding as a treatment step.

4. Stop the bleeding:

“Use a clean towel to apply light pressure to the area until bleeding stops (this may take a few minutes).” 1
Graphic representation of a hand applying a wound dressing to another wrist to symbolize covering the wound as a treatment step.

5. Cover the wound:

“Use a non-stick or gentle dressing and lightly bandage in place; try to avoid using tape on fragile skin to prevent further trauma on dressing removal.” 1
Icon showing medicine pills and bottle.

6. Manage the pain

Lacerations can be painful. “[…] consider pain relief while the wound heals.  Talk to your GP about options for pain relief.” 1

When to seek medical advice

“See your doctor or nurse if the wound:

  • shows signs of infection
  • continues to bleed
  • you are unable to realign the skin
  • has dirt, glass, a thorn or other foreign body in the wound
  • seems large or deep
  • is not healing, or is very slow to heal (e.g. not healed after 4 weeks)

Or if:

  • you have an underlying medical condition
  • you have another injury or hit your head at the time of the injury (you may have a concussion or fracture)
  • there is a risk of further injury
  • you are unsure how to manage the wound, or have any concerns.” 1

How to deal with loose skin

If (e. g. in case of a scalp laceration) there is a skin flap and it is still attached, carefully return the skin flap as far as possible to its original position over the wound with a moist cotton swab or pad.

Caution: If you are unsure how to manage the wound please seek medical advice.

When in doubt, see a medical expert

Many common wounds can be dealt with at home. But when should a doctor be consulted? Scroll down for more information!

Pictogram showing a medical expert.