Laceration of the skin (cut)

Skin | Emergency Medicine | Laceration of the skin (cut) (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. People with suppressed immune systems (including people with diabetes, cancer patients receiving chemotherapy, people who take steroid medications, such as prednisone, patients on dialysis, or people with HIV) are more likely to develop a wound infection and should be seen by a healthcare practitioner.

Diagnosis and Treatment

The first step in the care of cuts, scrapes (abrasions) is to stop the bleeding. Most wounds respond to gentle direct pressure with a clean cloth or bandage. Hold the pressure continuously for approximately 10-20 minutes. If this fails to stop the bleeding or if bleeding is rapid the medical assistance is mandatory.

Thoroughly clean the wound with soap and water. Remove any foreign material in the wound, such as dirt, bits of grass, which may lead to infection. Tweezers can be used (clean them with alcohol first) to remove foreign material from the wound edges, but do not dig into the wound as this may push bacteria deeper into the wound. The wound may also be gently scrubbed with a washcloth to remove dirt and debris. Hydrogen peroxide and povidone-iodine (Betadine) products may be used to clean the wound initially, but may inhibit wound healing if used long-term. ...