About facial cuts and wounds
Children may get minor cuts, wounds, and face lacerations while playing, climbing, or during sports activities. Most of these injuries can be handled at home with simple first-aid treatment. The gums, tongue, and lips have a rich blood supply and when cuts occur, these areas may bleed excessively.
How to prevent facial cuts and wounds
The following are a few guidelines for preventing facial injuries in children:
- Teach your child not to poke or place objects in the ears or nose, such as cotton swabs or pencils.
- Teach your child not to walk or run while holding an object in his mouth.
- Teach your child not to suck or chew on hard, sharp, or pointed objects.
- Have your child wear protective eye, ear, or face guards for sports activities that could cause injury.
- To prevent injury to the external ear, have your child's ears pierced professionally and take care of them.
How to treat facial cuts and wounds
First-aid for superficial cuts and wounds
- Calm and comfort your child by letting him or her know that you can help.
- Apply pressure with a clean cloth or bandage for several minutes to stop bleeding.
- Wash your hands thoroughly.
- Protect the eyes from any soap or antiseptics you may need to use on the wound.
- Wash the cut area well with soap and water, but do not scrub the wound. Remove any dirt particles from the area and let the water from the faucet run over it for several minutes. A dirty cut or scrape that is not thoroughly cleaned can cause scarring.
- Apply an antiseptic lotion or cream.
- Cover the area with an adhesive bandage or gauze pad. Change the dressing often.
- Check the area each day and keep it clean and dry.
- Avoid blowing on the abrasion, as this can cause germs to grow.
- Treat bruises, blisters, or swollen areas caused by trauma by placing an ice or cold pack on the area every one to two hours for 10 to 15 minutes for the first 24 hours.
- Use a sunscreen (sun protection factor, or SPF, at least 15 or greater) on healed cuts and wounds to help prevent scarring.
Depending on where your child's wound is, there are special considerations.
- Give your child an ice pop or ice cube to suck on to help reduce bleeding and swelling.
- If the wound is inside your child's mouth, rinse the area well with cool water for several minutes. Remove any dirt particles from the area.
- Even small lacerations of the lips may cause a noticeable difference in the border or outline of the lips. These wounds may require stitches to keep the borders even and reduce the possibility of scars.
- Any wound to the cartilage of your child's ear that is more than just a superficial cut or laceration should be evaluated by a physician to decide if stitches or further treatment is needed.
- A direct blow or blunt trauma to the ear that causes a large bruise or hematoma (collection of blood and fluid underneath the skin) should be evaluated by a physician who will determine if further treatment is needed.
A wound, bruise, or hematoma (a collection of blood and fluid underneath the skin) that also involves the eye(s) should be evaluated by a physician immediately.
When should I call my child's physician?
Specific treatment for cuts and wounds of the face that require more than minor treatment at home will be determined by your child's physician. In general, call your child's physician for cuts and wounds of the face that are:
- bleeding heavily and do not stop after 5 to 10 minutes of direct pressure
- on the eyelids or involve the eyes. Injury to the eye area requires evaluation by a physician.
- deep or longer than an inch
- caused by a puncture wound, or dirty or rusty object
- embedded with debris such as dirt, stones, or gravel
- ragged or have separated edges
- caused by an animal or human bite
- excessively painful or if you suspect a fracture or head or bone injury
- showing signs of infection such as increased warmth, redness, swelling, or drainage
Your child and tetanus
Also call your child's physician if your child has not had a tetanus vaccination within the past five years, or if you are unsure when your child's last tetanus shot was given.