A laceration is tear or opening in the skin caused by an injury. Lacerations may be small and need only minor treatment at home, or may be large enough to require emergency medical care.
Stitches, also called sutures, are special types of thread that hold wound edges together while they heal. Stitches help to stop bleeding, reduce scarring and decrease the chance of infection in the wound.
Steri-Strips are special adhesive bandages that can sometimes be used on shallow wounds instead of stitches. Steri-Strips perform the same functions as stitches.
Lacerations that involve the face, are longer than 1/2 inch, are deep, or are bleeding heavily, may require stitches.
Specific treatment for lacerations that require more than minor treatment at home will be determined by your child's physician. In general, call your child's physician for lacerations that are:
Also call your child's physician if:
If your child's physician or an emergency department physician needs to place stitches or use Steri-Strips to close a laceration, you will be given specific instructions for how to care for the stitches. Treatment at home will be based on the location and size of the laceration, type of stitches used and any special needs noted by your child's physician. Antibiotics may be given to help prevent infection in the wound.
Some stitches dissolve and do not need to be removed while other stitches require removal. Your child's physician or the emergency department physician will let you know when to return to have stitches removed. Do not try to remove your child's stitches yourself.
Some general guidelines for caring for lacerations with stitches or Steri-Strips include the following:
The Division of Dermatology at Children's National Health System continues to expand services as more families seek our expertise in the diagnosis and treatment of disorders of the skin, hair, and nails.
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