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Cuts or Lacerations (cont.)

When to Seek Medical Care

Call your doctor to decide whether you need a tetanus booster. You should have had a tetanus booster immunization within the last 10 years if you have a simple, clean cut, or within the last five years if you have a more complex or dirty cut.

Beyond general wound care advice, it is very difficult to give advice on care specific to a patient's cut over the phone. Your doctor may help you decide whether it is better to go to the doctor's office or to a hospital's Emergency Department.

Ask these questions when considering whether to get treatment for a cut at a hospital's Emergency Department:

  • Can you stop the bleeding?
  • Are the wound edges separated?
  • Can you adequately clean the wound?
  • Is it possible that serious underlying damage was done (such as a cut nerve or tendon)?
  • Do you need a tetanus or rabies shot?
    • Tetanus is a serious condition resulting from a poison made by the Clostridium tetani bacterium, which is often present in dirt.
    • Rabies is a serious viral infection of the nervous system resulting from bites of rabid animals.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/28/2014

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