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What is a Laceration?

Lacerations otherwise known as cuts are wounds that occur when soft tissue (usually skin or muscle) is torn our cut open. These wounds can be deep or shallow, long, or short, and wide or narrow.


Lacerations can be cataloged in 5 different types:

  • Incisions: The most common type of laceration, these are caused by a sharp-edged object such as a knife, razor, or broken glass.
  • Avulsions: The most serious type of laceration, an avulsion occurs when a portion of the skin and surrounding soft tissue are partly or completely torn off causing considerable bleeding. Severe avulsions could result in amputation of a body part, like a finger.
  • Puncture Wounds: As the name suggests these wounds are caused by an object puncturing the skin, these are normally minor lacerations that will only need treatment if the object was dirty or rusty.
  • Penetration Wounds: These are similar to puncture wounds but much more severe, an example of a penetration wound would be a stabbing with a knife.
  • Gunshot wounds: Caused by a projectile entering the body tearing the skin and other soft tissue, the bullet may enter and exit the body or become lodged inside it.

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Most Common Causes of Lacerations

Lacerations are always caused when an object strikes the skin and causes to tear. Lacerations can be simple or complex depending on factors like angle, force, depth, and type of object. While most minor lacerations won’t merit a trip to the emergency department, deep lacerations, lacerations with extensive bleeding, and avulsions do require immediate emergency medical treatment.

How to Prevent Lacerations

The best way to avoid the most common types of lacerations is by exercising strong judgment in situations that are detrimental to your well-being.

  • When handling knives or other sharp objects, always point the blade away from you.
  • If you are doing repairs, make sure to use the right equipment.
  • Wear proper clothing.
  • Keep children away from sharp-edged objects.


Lacerations are easy to diagnose because they all involve injury to the epidermis,
the first layer of skin, the injuries can be mild or severe depending
on the depth and extent of the injury.

Mild lacerations will have little or no bleeding, and the patient may experience mild pain,
while more severe or complex lacerations usually involve greater bleeding and more intense pain.

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