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Cuts or Lacerations (cont.)

Outlook

Infection is the biggest medical concern in the first few weeks.

  • Signs of infection include severe pain, draining pus, redness beyond the wound edges, fever and chills, or excessive wound swelling.
  • Inflammation from wound healing and stitches can cause minor redness around the wound edges and is normal.
  • If you think you might have an infection, see a doctor.

Scarring is a big concern. Although good wound care gives the best chance of a smaller scar, there are several factors you can't control:

  • Some African American people form keloid scars during the healing process
    • A keloid is a thick swollen scar with a ropelike quality.
    • Sometimes a dermatologist or plastic surgeon can treat the condition after the wound is healed.
    • More jagged cuts with more traumatic skin damage (such as a cut surrounded by an area of abrasion) tend to scar more.
    • Cuts in the same direction as your natural skin lines (wrinkle lines) are less visible.

There are some things you can do to help minimize the possibility of scarring:

  • Infected wounds tend to scar more.
    • Keep an eye out for redness, swelling, or other signs of infection and see a doctor if these occur.
    • Keep the wound covered and clean while healing.
    • Avoid sun exposure, as newly healed tissue burns more easily and is often left discolored.
    • Over-the-counter scar creams are generally not harmful but they have not been proven to be effective.
    • It is important to realize that a scar will often look red and swollen after suture removal but may fade considerably for up to one year. You might want to wait at least that long before consulting a specialist for scar revision.

Medically reviewed by Rambod Rouhbakhsh, MD, MBA, FAAFP; American Board of Family Medicine


Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/28/2014

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