Hand and wrist lacerations (cuts)

Person with a bandage on hand

​Skin, our body's largest organ, plays an important role in keeping you healthy. A laceration is when the skin is opened due to a cut or tear. Cuts or scrapes, especially of the hands, remove the skin’s barrier that protects us from possible infections.

Lacerations vary in seriousness—minor lacerations can be treated at home, while significant lacerations require medical attention. In some cases, urgent medical attention may be necessary. 

Proper laceration care involves stopping the bleeding, cleaning the wound area, and preventing scarring and infection as the wound heals.

Hand and wrist laceration symptoms

Is your laceration healing properly? If you keep the area clean, the chance of infection is low. However, watch for these signs of infection:

  • Fever

  • Foul odor coming from the cut

  • Increased pain

  • Pus or discharge coming from the cut or scrape

  • Redness, swelling or warmth in the affected area

If you have any of these symptoms, see your doctor for treatment.

Hand and wrist laceration diagnosis   

When a wound appears to be more than a minor cut, medical attention may be necessary. Experts at The Christ Hospital Health Network recommend seeking medical treatment if your laceration is:

  • A puncture wound 

  • Bleeding heavily and does not stop bleeding after 5 to10 minutes of direct pressure

  • Caused by a dirty or rusty object 

  • Caused by a human or animal bite 

  • Deeper than a ½ inch

  • Embedded with dirt, gravel or stones 

  • Longer than a ½ inch 

  • Painful 

  • Ragged with separated edges 

  • Showing signs of infection (warm to touch, redness, swelling or draining) 

If you have numbness around the laceration or an inability to move the nearby joint, urgent medical attention is needed to rule out injury to nerves, tendons or a broken bone. Our experienced team will quickly evaluate your injury and determine the best course of treatment. 

Hand and wrist laceration treatment 

If your cut is bleeding heavily, put direct pressure on it with a clean cloth for 5 to 10 minutes without stopping. If the blood soaks through the cloth, do not remove the original cloth; instead, put an additional cloth on top using continuous pressure.

Additional laceration treatments at The Christ Hospital Health Network may include: 

  • Antibiotics—medicine for infection.

  • Antiseptic—a lotion or cream application.

  • Bandaging—covering for the area surrounding the laceration. 

  • Cleaning the wound—with saline or water. 

  • Stitches—special types of thread that hold wound edges together while they heal. 

  • Surgery—if nerve or bone is damaged. 

  • Tetanus shot—if you haven’t received one in last five years. 

You can rely on the expertise of our physicians to help you manage a serious laceration to your hand or wrist.

Find a hand and wrist specialist near you.