The Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety reports that 115,797 people were injured in motor vehicle accidents in 2008. Lacerations are one of the most common injuries sustained in a vehicle crash.
This type of injury occurs when soft body tissue is torn resulting in a wound. Severe lacerations can leave accident victims with permanent scarring.
Types of Lacerations
A cut laceration is the most common type of laceration. A cut laceration occurs when a sharp object comes in contact with the skin and breaks the first layer of skin. At times, cut lacerations can break the through the underlying tissue as well.
A grinding compression occurs when an object hits the skin in a brushing motion or at an angle and then lifts the skin and peels it back. When the top skin layer is peeled back, the epidermis is compromised and the underlying tissue is crushed.
These lacerations occur when two objects crush a section of the body. Once the compression has occurred, the skin and tissues tear. Typically, split lacerations occur on the hands, legs, face and hands.
Similar to its name, a tearing laceration is when the skin literally tears. Tearing lacerations commonly occur during car collisions.
Over-stretching lacerations are not that common. These lacerations occur when an object strikes the skin at an angle and pushes or pulls the skin, causing complete breakage and or stretching of the skin.
Treatments for Lacerations
The type of treatment required for a laceration will depend on the severity of the wound. Minor lacerations can be treated at home with over-the-counter products. Follow the steps below to treat minor lacerations:
- Apply direct pressure to the laceration to stop the bleeding.
- Clean the cut with warm water and soap.
- To prevent an infection from occurring, apply an antibiotic ointment.
- Place a sterile bandage over the laceration.
You can remove the bandage after a few days. However, if the wound isn’t healing after a few days, you need to contact your physician.
Accident victims should see a medical professional immediately if any of the following situations occurs:
- If you cannot get the laceration clean.
- The laceration is deep or over a joint
- The laceration is deep and the victim has not had a tetanus shot or booster in the last five to 10 years.
Stitches may be required for the laceration to stop the bleeding, protect the underlying tissues and lessen the scarring. Usually, a doctor will remove the stitches after 4-14 days, unless the stitches are on the hand or face. Stitches on the face can be removed after four days and no later than seven days due to the fact that the face heals faster than any other location on the face. Also, scarring on the face is a concern for doctors and the patient. While the hand generally takes longer to heal, stitches in the hand may be left in longer than 14 days. During your doctor’s visit, the doctor will recommend the numbers of day before your follow up. On average, it takes six weeks for the wound to reach 80 percent of its healed strength.