Finger Tip Amputation, Open Treatment - University of Minnesota Medical Center
 
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Finger Tip Amputation [Open Treatment]

You have cut off the tip of your finger. When this happens there is skin missing and the wound cannot be fully covered by sewing the edges together. For your type of injury, the best result can be obtained by allowing the wound to heal on its own by growing new skin from the sides. Depending on the size of the wound, it will take from 2–6 weeks for the wound to fill in with new skin. Once healed, you should have normal feeling in the new skin. Antibiotics may be used to prevent infection if the wound is dirty or if the bone or tendons were involved.

Home care

The following guidelines will help you care for your wound at home:

  • Keep the injured hand elevated during the first two days to reduce swelling and pain.

  • Keep the bandage clean and dry. If the dressing stays on longer than two days, it will stick to the wound. Unless, you have a doctor appointment in two days, change the bandage as described below.

If you were advised to change your own dressing, follow these directions regarding bandage removal and replacement:

  • If the dressing sticks to the wound, you can loosen it by soaking the dressing under warm running water.

  • Once the dressing is removed, clean the wound with soap and water.

  • Apply an antibiotic ointment. Bulky gauze dressing should be used for the first two days for additional protection from injury. Cover with a nonstick gauze pad or wrap with bandage gauze. After that, if your wound is small and not too painful, a large stretch bandage is okay to use.

  • You may shower as usual, but keep your dressing dry by using a small plastic trash bag over the hand, rubber-banded at the wrist. Do not soak your hand in water (no baths or swimming) until approved by your doctor.

  • If antibiotics were prescribed, take them all until they are gone.

  • You may use over-the-counter pain medication unless another pain medicine was prescribed. If you have chronic liver or kidney disease or ever had a stomach ulcer or GI bleeding, talk with your doctor before using these medicines.

  • If a numbing medicine was used on your finger it will wear off in 1–6 hours. Begin taking your pain medicine before this happens, since there may be throbbing or pain during the first few days.

Follow-up care

An infection may sometimes occur even though proper treatment was given. If no appointment was given for a wound check, and if your doctor did not advise against it, you may check the wound yourself at home in two days by carefully removing the dressing as described above. If stitches were used, they should be removed within 7–14 days, as advised by your doctor.

[Note: If X-rays were taken, a radiologist will review them and you will be notified of any new findings that may affect your care.]

When to seek medical care

Get prompt medical attention if any of the following occur:

  • Increasing pain in the wound

  • Redness or swelling around the wound

  • Pus or fluid coming from the wound or foul odor from a cast or splint

  • If sutures or staples come apart or fall out before your next appointment

  • Fever of 100.4ºF (38ºC) or higher, or as directed by your health care provider

  • Bleeding not controlled by direct pressure