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.
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