Cuts and Wounds of the Face

Children may get minor cuts and wounds 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 shallow cuts and wounds

To treat shallow 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. 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 fully cleaned can cause scarring and infection.

  • For a lot of bleeding, press on the wound firmly for 5 to 10 minutes with a clean cloth. Do not stop to look at the cut. If the cloth becomes soaked with blood, put a new cloth on top of the old cloth. Do not lift the first cloth. Facial wounds often bleed heavily.

  • Apply an antiseptic lotion or cream, or petroleum jelly.

  • 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.

  • Don't blow on the wound. 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 with sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15 or higher on healed cuts and wounds. This is to help prevent scarring.

When should I call my child's healthcare provider?

Your child's healthcare provider will talk with you about treatment for cuts and wounds of the face that need more than minor treatment at home. But call your child's healthcare provider or get immediate medical care for cuts and wounds of the face that are:

  • Bleeding without stopping after 10 minutes of direct pressure, or that start to bleed again. 

  • On the eyelids or involve the eyes. Injury to the eye area needs evaluation by a healthcare 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

  • Extremely 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 healthcare provider if:

  • Your child has not had a tetanus vaccine 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

To help prevent 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.