A laceration is a disruption of the deeper layers of skin, which has the risk of becoming infected. Lacerations may not heal well if the edges of the wound are not brought together properly, which could lead to permanent scar formation. Lacerations to the facial area usually result in extensive bleeding, as there are lots of capillaries in the thin, soft skin of the head. The amount of blood associated with a facial injury, however, is not always indicative of the severity of the injury. If sutures are required, they need not be put in immediately, but the delay should not exceed three or four hours. Consider a tetanus booster, if it has been more than five years since the previous one.

On-Site Management

Cleanse. If the wound is small, gently cleanse with a sterile saline solution. Do not put any creams or ointments on the wound. An important exception to the above treatment procedure is for a cut sustained by a human bite (or even a cut from a chance contact with a person's tooth). These should not be closed by any method due to the high probability of infection. The athlete will require antibiotics (even for minor human bites) and should be seen by a physician.

Apply direct compression, elevate the limb and transport to hospital, if necessary. If unsure whether the wound will require sutures or not, transport the athlete to a hospital for a professional assessment.

Close Wound."Steri-strips" or "butterfly strips" can be applied prior to taking the athlete for medical attention. However, in cases where the laceration is dirty or the wound is deep and gaping, (therefore requiring deep sutures), these strips should not be applied by an inexperienced individual. With these type of wounds the problem is usually not the skin laceration itself but what is underneath it. Nerve, muscle, tendon or blood vessel damage may be hidden and missed.

Return to Activity

Most athletes who have had sutures will be able to return to action the following day as long as the wound is protected with appropriate padding.

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