Laceration (cut in the skin)

Skin | Emergency Medicine | Laceration (cut in the skin) (Disease)


A cut refers to a skin wound with separation of the connective tissue elements. Unlike an abrasion (a wound caused by friction or scraping), none of the skin is missing the skin is just separated. A cut is typically thought of as a wound caused by a sharp object (such as a knife or a shard of glass).

Causes and Risk factors

The term laceration implies a torn or jagged wound. Lacerations tend to be caused by blunt trauma (such as a blow, fall, or collision). Cuts and lacerations are terms for the same condition.

The term gash can be used for more dramatic effect because it implies a longer or deeper cut. An avulsion refers to a wound where tissue is not just separated but torn away from the body.

A person suffering a cut will often bleed. Other concerns with a cut include infection, pain, damage to structures beneath the skin, and future scars.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Although it can be obscured by blood, a cut is one of the easiest medical conditions to diagnose. A deep cut, may reveal underlying tissues such as fat, tendon, muscle, or bone. Some people faint at the sight of their own blood (this is a neurological reaction in which a reflex slowing of the heart causes a low blood pressure called vasovagal syncope). Physicians need to distinguish this common faint from people who pass out from loss of blood (hemorrhagic shock).

Regarding the treatment, simple lacerations require only closure of the skin. More complex lacerations may require repair of tendons, nerves and/or arteries. ...