Lacerations are among the most common injuries that occur over the course of a human life and usually heal easily and without complications. In the case of large lacerations or those that bleed profusely and continuously, medical advice should be sought to ensure good wound care. This also ensures optimal wound healing of the laceration.
What is a laceration?
Lacerations are – usually severely – bleeding injuries to the skin. These are particularly common on parts of the body where the skin is very close to the bone.
Lacerations are often found on the head, elbow or shinbone, i.e. anywhere where there is little or no cushioning layer of fat. The edges of a laceration are usually well supplied with blood, but depending on the type of laceration, they can also be severely torn or dirty. See polyhobbies for Meanings of Pancreatic Cancer.
A laceration occurs when a person’s skin hits a hard or blunt object and ruptures. This is also known as blunt force impact.
Children and young people are particularly likely to suffer lacerations when learning new movements or sporting activities and the associated falls. But older people who can no longer walk and stand safely are also at risk of lacerations in the event of a fall.
The cause of a fall in older people can also be a stroke, which is why a laceration in this case must be clarified.
Symptoms, Ailments & Signs
A laceration is usually caused by a strong external force. The most obvious symptom of a laceration is heavy bleeding. Even small lacerations often develop a large flow of blood that needs to be stopped immediately. Severe pain, on the other hand, is not a typical symptom of a laceration.
However, due to the high blood loss, considerable dizziness can occur. Under certain circumstances, the blood loss can be so great that it even leads to a fainting spell. A particularly strong impact can even damage the underlying bone. If there is a fracture, this is of course associated with considerable pain.
In many cases, medical and drug treatment is required, otherwise a deep laceration cannot heal properly. Sensory disturbances are also a common symptom associated with a laceration. This can sometimes lead to permanent numbness.
A strong and long-lasting tingling is also possible, so that this is also a clear sign of an existing laceration. In general, lacerations should always be treated by a doctor so that a smooth recovery can be guaranteed. Otherwise, there is a risk of ugly scars that will remain for years.
Diagnosis & History
A laceration can usually be diagnosed relatively clearly without medical help. In order to be able to assess the extent and depth of the laceration, it is still advisable to consult a doctor. Medical advice should be sought, especially in the case of heavily bleeding or very large lacerations, which are particularly common on the skull.
The doctor will first ask how the laceration came about and then clarify how bad the injury is. Once appropriate treatment has been initiated, the chances of recovery are very good – provided the laceration does not become infected with germs. In some cases, a scar forms in the area of the injury after it has healed, which is particularly the case with extensive or deep lacerations.
Children who injure themselves while playing or cycling are particularly affected by lacerations. But adults also occasionally get lacerations. In healthy people, these injuries usually heal without complications. In any case, the wound should be cleaned thoroughly and then covered with a plaster or bandage, otherwise it could become infected.
Caution is advised if dirt or soil has gotten into the wound and there is no vaccination against tetanus. Those affected who have not been vaccinated against tetanus should always pay attention to relevant symptoms. Anyone suffering from pain and muscle stiffness in the head area or from swallowing difficulties after an injury with an open wound must see a doctor immediately. Tetanus is life-threatening and must be treated as early as possible.
People who suffer from hemophilia run the risk of bleeding to death even with otherwise harmless injuries and should therefore consult a doctor as a precautionary measure in the event of lacerations.
Complications can also occur in people with severely weakened immune systems. Here there is a risk that germs that enter through the open wound are not eliminated from the body, but multiply and get into the organs. In these cases, there is a risk of blood poisoning (sepsis).
When should you go to the doctor?
A laceration is usually caused by a strong external force, such as a fall. It often occurs in the head area and is associated with heavy bleeding. A visit to the doctor is absolutely necessary in the case of an existing laceration, as otherwise various complications can occur. An appropriate doctor can quickly stop the heavy bleeding and ensure that the wound is properly closed. Bacteria and germs can therefore not get into the wound, so that a dangerous infection can be avoided.
If the affected person does without medical and drug care, the risk of infection is very high. Bacteria can cause an infection within a short time, resulting in the formation of pus fluid. At the first signs of such an infection, a doctor should be consulted immediately. Otherwise there is a risk of blood poisoning. The following therefore applies: A laceration can be treated quickly and effectively with medical and drug treatment. Without proper treatment, dangerous complications can occur.
Treatment & Therapy
In the case of a laceration that is accompanied by heavy bleeding, the bleeding should first be stopped, which can be done with the help of a pressure bandage, for example. In order not to introduce germs into the laceration, it is absolutely recommended to use sterile dressing material such as compresses.
If the wound is bleeding profusely or if the edges of the laceration are very wide apart, you need to see a doctor or hospital. There, the laceration is examined by a doctor and disinfected. For very deep or large lacerations, the doctor may need to staple or stitch them to help optimal wound healing and prevent scarring.
At the same time, the doctor will examine whether other injuries such as broken bones have occurred in the area of the laceration. The important tetanus protection is also checked by the doctor treating you and refreshed if necessary.
Smaller lacerations that bleed less profusely do not necessarily require a doctor’s visit. Nevertheless, the laceration should definitely be disinfected to avoid infection of the open area. If the laceration was caused by a fall on the head, a visit to the doctor or hospital is highly advisable to rule out a concussion as a result of the fall. Appropriate care of the laceration is also guaranteed there.
Preventing a laceration is quite difficult, since almost everyone will get one or more lacerations in the course of their life. The use of a helmet and well-fitting joint protectors helps to protect sensitive parts of the body, especially during sporting activities. For older people, the use of walking aids such as a rollator is recommended to give them more security when walking. This way you can at least try to prevent a laceration.
The aftercare measures are based on the treatment of the wound. If the laceration was sewn, the sutures must be removed after a few days. The doctor will inform the patient whether the stitches need to be removed at home or in the doctor’s office. The scar must then be cared for. A wound plaster can be used to protect the laceration from contamination for one to two weeks.
Depending on the position of the laceration, a fatty cream or a gentle scar gel with active ingredients such as dimethicone or dexpanthenol can then be used. In the case of redness, itching and a feeling of tightness in particular, a care product from the drugstore or pharmacy is recommended. In addition, scarring can be reduced by careful massage. If healing takes a positive course, the wound should quickly and completely close and the scar fade.
The doctor must check the injury again to rule out inflammation or adhesions. Follow-up care is provided by the general practitioner or a dermatologist. For larger injuries, a clinic may have to be visited to remove the stitches and treat the scar medically. A healed laceration that does not cause any symptoms does not require any further follow-up examinations.
You can do that yourself
A laceration does not necessarily have to be treated by a doctor. Smaller lacerations, especially those that are not deep, can also be treated by self-treatment. Even with lacerations treated by a doctor, self-help is possible, which can contribute to faster healing of the injured area.
If a laceration is self-treated, the wound must first be cleaned of dirt and disinfected to prevent later infection. The wound is then covered in a sterile manner, either with a plaster or a bandage over a compress. In the event of bleeding, the bandage solution must be replaced in good time or, before bandaging, pressure must be applied to the wound until the bleeding has stopped. Elevating the affected extremity helps stop the bleeding. If you want to be on the safe side, you should have the doctor check the wound again for infection or scarring when you have the opportunity.
Self-help is also possible for a wound that has been treated by the doctor and maybe even stapled and sewn up. This includes dressing changes recommended by the doctor and the omission of all measures that can disrupt the healing process. This includes the waterproof shielding of the wound when showering or bathing as well as consistent protection against dirt. In the case of lacerations near the eyes, it is better to avoid wearing make-up and putting pressure on glasses until the wound has closed and healed.