Cuts and puncture wounds

Definition

A cut is a break or opening in the skin. It is also called a laceration. A cut may be deep, smooth, or jagged. It may be near the surface of the skin, or deeper. A deep cut can affect tendons, muscles, ligaments, nerves, blood vessels, or bone.

A puncture is a wound made by a pointed object such as a nail, knife, or sharp tooth.

Alternative Names

Wound - cut or puncture; Open wound; Laceration; Puncture wound

Symptoms

Infection may occur with some cuts and puncture wounds. The following are more likely to become infected:

First Aid

If the wound is bleeding severely, call your local emergency number such as 911.

Minor cuts and puncture wounds can be treated at home. Take the following steps.

FOR MINOR CUTS

FOR MINOR PUNCTURES

DO NOT

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call 911or your local emergency number if:

Call your doctor immediately if:

If you have a serious wound, your doctor may order blood tests to check for bacteria.

Prevention

Keep knives, scissors, firearms, and fragile items out of the reach of children. When children are old enough, teach them to how to use knives and scissors safely.

Make sure you and your child are up to date on vaccinations. A tetanus vaccine is generally recommended every 10 years.

References

Lammers RL. Principles of Wound Management. In: Roberts IR, Hedges JR eds. Roberts: Clinical Procedures in Emergency Medicine. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa. Saunders Elsevier; 2009: chap 39.


Review Date: 1/1/2013
Reviewed By: Jacob L. Heller, MD, MHA, Emergency Medicine, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, Washington. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, David R. Eltz, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.
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