A laceration is a wound caused by a sharp object such as a knife. Unlike injuries caused by high temperatures or chemical wounds, the laceration thus belongs to the group of mechanical injuries.
What is a cut?
The cut is caused by the impact of a sharp-edged object. It is thus assigned to the mechanical injuries caused by sharp force. Due to the sharp-edged shape of the impacting object, the cut wound is characterized by smooth wound edges. See bestitude for Meanings of Connective Tissue Weakness.
In addition, these usually only slightly diverge. Since a cut is caused by a selective force of the object causing the wound, the surrounding skin areas usually remain uninjured. Instead, layers of tissue beneath the skin may be affected.
Another characteristic of a cut is therefore profuse bleeding, which can be particularly violent if an artery is affected. If bacteria get into the wound, they can be flushed out by the heavy bleeding and infection of the cut wound can be prevented.
The causes of a cut are varied. An accident in the home is a classic: one wrong movement when cutting tomatoes or a carelessly executed cut with a box cutter and your own fingers are affected instead of the tomato or the carpet.
It is not uncommon for a shard of glass to pierce through the thin soles of your shoes in summer and injure your foot. Finally, even a thin piece of paper can accidentally cause a cut. Certain professional fields can also be predestined for a cut.
For example, people in the medical profession are more likely to handle pointed and sharp-edged objects such as scalpels and syringes, which can easily cause cuts.
Symptoms, Ailments & Signs
A cut is accompanied by fairly typical and clear-cut symptoms, so sufferers can often self-diagnose a cut. In most cases, there is heavy bleeding, which may even require medical treatment and medication. Another sign of a cut is a strong burning sensation at the site.
Of course, cuts can occur in different degrees of severity, so that the severity of the bleeding also depends on it. If the affected person does not seek medical care, there may be a large loss of blood. Therefore, a visit to the doctor should not be put off.
Another symptom of a laceration is a long-lasting feeling of numbness if muscles or tendons are injured. If this symptom occurs, a doctor must be consulted immediately. Otherwise, permanent consequential damage can occur if you do not visit the doctor.
If only the uppermost layers of skin are injured by the cut, only minor bleeding is to be expected. In such a case, there are no other symptoms or complaints. Cuts are accompanied by fairly definite symptoms that vary in severity depending on the severity.
Diagnosis & History
Factors in determining the type and severity of a cut include the source of the wound and the tissues involved. With regard to the type of wound, the cut wound is determined by the injuring object. This is usually sharp-edged, which is reflected in smooth wound edges.
The severity of the wound depends, among other things, on whether it is an internal or external injury. For example, a cut that only scratches the outer skin is less of a concern than a cut that affects internal organs.
The complexity of the wound is also important. In the case of a complicated cut, not only the skin but also tendons, joints or nerves are affected. The more complicated it is, the more complex the treatment of the cut becomes.
Minor cuts, which are particularly common on fingers and hands, usually heal in healthy people after a few days without complications. At best, a small scar will remain, but this will fade over time.
Under certain conditions, however, complications can arise. Severe lacerations that perforate larger blood vessels can result in severe blood loss and consequent circulatory shock. Rapid hemostasis is then required, otherwise there is a risk of death for the person concerned.
Complications can also be expected if the cut not only injures the skin but also nerves or tendons. In severe cases it is possible that after nerve injuries in the hands, as is sometimes the case with kitchen accidents, one or more fingers can no longer fully move or feel numb. After a tendon injury, the ability to flex and extend the fingers may be limited.
In addition, complications can be expected if the wound was injured with a contaminated object and subsequently not thoroughly cleaned and disinfected. In mild cases, only the tissue near the wound becomes infected, but in more severe cases, sepsis (blood poisoning) can develop.
When should you go to the doctor?
If the cut is only superficial, it is usually sufficient to treat it with a plaster, other dressing material and wound gel. After a short time, the bleeding should be stopped and the wound healing begins.
A visit to the doctor is only necessary if the wound has gaping wound edges and is also very deep. If the bleeding cannot be stopped, a doctor should be consulted immediately so that the wound can be treated there. Infections can also become dangerous; the cut can be so small. Bacteria multiply within a very short time. The doctor must also examine whether nerves or tendons were hit. He has the option of suturing, stapling or gluing the wound. The tetanus vaccination may also need to be refreshed. Under no circumstances should you remove foreign objects yourself.
Patients who suffer from delayed blood clotting (e.g. hemophilia) must consult a doctor if they have a cut. Otherwise there is a risk of severe blood loss, even with small cuts.
Treatment & Therapy
Since severe bleeding is usually associated with a cut, this should first be stopped to prevent major blood loss. Ideally, a sterile compress should be used to stop the bleeding. This is pressed onto the cut for a few minutes until blood flow is noticeably reduced.
The wound is then bandaged with a plaster or other dressing. If the cut is larger or if not only the upper layer of skin is affected, you should definitely see a doctor. The same applies if the cut was caused by a contaminated object and the last tetanus vaccination was a while ago.
In this case, the doctor can treat the wound with antibacterial agents and thus prevent tetanus. If the wound does not stop bleeding after a long time, a doctor should also be consulted. In this case, adhesive plasters or a suture are used.
Facial injuries should also be treated by a doctor, as they usually bleed more heavily and require special aesthetic expertise when treating the cut.
On the one hand, a cut can be avoided by being particularly careful when handling sharp and pointed objects. The professional handling of these objects often requires specific training, which reduces the risk of injury. Special protective clothing and protective gloves can also prevent cuts at work. On the other hand, children should be made familiar with sharp-edged objects according to their age in order to reduce the risk of cuts.
Thorough follow-up care is important for a cut. Because with every injury, pathogens can enter the body. Therefore, it is necessary to closely monitor the wound. Redness, swelling, pain, restricted movement, suppuration or severe heat can indicate an inflammation of the cut.
In this case, consulting a doctor is essential. If redness spreads around the wound, the lymphatic vessels may be inflamed. There is a risk of blood poisoning. Immediate medical care is urgently needed. If the wound has been stitched and the threads have already been removed, the wound should still be covered with an adhesive plaster for a few days.
If the healing process is positive, bacteria can no longer get into the wound. If the cut is already covered by an intact layer of skin, the wound has not yet healed. Provisional structures are transformed into mature tissue and the skin begins to regenerate. Wound ointments are recommended to support this process.
Creams with dexpanthenol, vitamin A, plant extracts such as calendula, chamomile and witch hazel contribute to tissue regeneration and cell regeneration. They give the skin suppleness and prevent scars. Suitable ointments are available in pharmacies or drugstores. Sometimes a special scar ointment can be helpful.
You can do that yourself
Treating a cut yourself depends on how deep the injury is. For small cuts, it is sufficient to cover the wound area with a plaster or small bandage. To avoid infections, these should be changed occasionally. However, if the cut becomes inflamed, antibiotic ointments will quickly remedy the situation.
Deeper cuts should be treated by a doctor so that they can heal without complications. The doctor decides whether the wound needs to be stapled, taped, or stitched. He can also numb the area to be treated with a local anesthetic if necessary. To prevent open or secondary wound healing, the cut must be treated within six hours. If the wound is treated later, the healing process can take much longer and leave clear scars. Immediate wound care is the best prerequisite for wound healing without complications.
Cuts that are in the joint area are more stressed and can tear. To prevent this from happening, the affected joint should be immobilized with a splint. The edges of the wound can thus grow together better. Full baths and water sports should be avoided until the staples or threads have been removed. The wound should be closed and preferably without a crust.