Cuts and Wounds of the Face

Children may get minor cuts, wounds, and lacerations to the face while playing, climbing, or during sports activities. Most of these injuries can be handled at home with simple first-aid treatment.

First aid for superficial cuts and wounds

  • Calm your child and let him or her know 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 and infection.

  • 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.

  • Bruises, blisters, or swollen areas caused by trauma may be treated by placing an ice or cold pack on the area every 1 to 2 hours for 10 to 15 minutes for the first 24 hours. Do not put ice directly against the skin. 

  • Use a sunscreen (sun protection factor, or SPF, at least 15 or greater) on healed cuts and wounds to help prevent scarring.

When should I call my child's health care provider?

Specific treatment for cuts and wounds of the face that require more than minor treatment at home will be determined by your child's doctor. In general, call your child's health care provider for cuts and wounds of the face that are:

  • Bleeding and do not stop after 5 to 10 minutes of direct pressure. If the bleeding is profuse, hold pressure for 5 to 10 minutes without stopping to look at the cut. If the cloth becomes soaked with blood, put a new cloth on top of the old one. Do not lift the original cloth. Keep in mind that facial wounds often bleed heavily, even under normal circumstances; call the health care provider if a wound or cut does not stop bleeding after 10 minutes or if bleeding recurs. 

  • On the eyelids or involve the eyes. Injury to the eye area requires evaluation by a health care provider.

  • Deep or longer than 1/2 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.

Also call your child's health care provider if:

  • Your child has not had a tetanus vaccination within the past 5 years, or if you are unsure when your child's last tetanus shot was given.

  • You are concerned about the wound or have any questions.

Preventing facial injuries

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 or her 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.