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Symptoms and Signs of Cuts or Lacerations

Doctor's Notes on Cuts or Lacerations

Cuts and lacerations are terms for the same condition. A cut is a skin wound that results in separation of the skin, often caused by a sharp object (such as a knife or a shard of glass). A laceration refers to a torn or jagged wound that also tends to be caused by sharp objects or blunt force.

Symptoms that may accompany cuts and lacerations include bleeding, infection (signs of infection include severe pain, draining pus, redness beyond the wound edges, fever and chills, or excessive wound swelling), inflammation and minor redness in the skin around the injury, pain, damage to structures beneath the skin; exposure of underlying tissues such as fat, tendon, muscle, or bone if the cut is deep; fainting at the sight of blood (this is a neurological reaction in which a reflex slowing of the heart causes a low blood pressure called vasovagal syncope), and possible future scars.

Medical Author: John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP
Medically Reviewed on 3/11/2019

Cuts or Lacerations Symptoms

  • Although it can be obscured by blood, a cut is one of the easiest medical conditions to diagnose.
  • A deep cut may reveal underlying tissues such as fat, tendon, muscle, or bone.
  • Some people faint at the sight of their own blood (this is a neurological reaction in which a reflex slowing of the heart causes a low blood pressure called vasovagal syncope). Physicians need to distinguish this common faint from people who pass out from loss of blood (hemorrhagic shock).

Cuts and Scrapes Caring for Wounds in Pictures Slideshow

Cuts and Scrapes Caring for Wounds in Pictures Slideshow

Blood helps clean wounds, so a little bleeding is good. Most small cuts and scrapes stop bleeding pretty quickly, but you can help by applying firm, gentle pressure with gauze or a tissue. If blood soaks through, put another piece of gauze or tissue on top, don't remove the old one or you may separate the wound and start the bleeding again.

REFERENCE:

Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.

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