Laceration and Wound Care


The best way to clean a cut, scrape or puncture wound (such as a wound from a nail) is with cool water. You can hold the wound under running water or fill a tub with cool water and pour it from a cup over the wound.
Use soap and a soft washcloth to clean the skin around the wound. Try to keep soap out of the wound itself because soap can cause irritation. Use tweezers that have been cleaned in isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol) to remove any dirt that remains in the wound after washing.

Call your doctor if your wound is deep, if you can’t get the edges to stay together or if the edges are jagged. Your doctor may want to close your wound with stitches or skin adhesive. These things can help reduce the amount of scarring.

Call your family doctor if any of the following things occur: 

  • The wound is jagged
  • The wound is on your face
  • The edges of the cut gape open
  • The cut has dirt in it that won’t come out
  • The cut becomes tender or inflamed
  • The cut drains a thick, creamy, grayish fluid
  • You start to run a temperature over 100°F
  • The area around the wound feels numb
  • You can’t move comfortably
  • Red streaks form near the wound
  • It’s a puncture wound or a deep cut and you haven’t had a tetanus shot in the past 5 years
  • The cut bleeds in spurts, blood soaks through the bandage or the bleeding doesn’t stop after 20 minutes of firm, direct pressure

Additional Resources: