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 them know you can help.

  • Wash your hands thoroughly.

  • Apply pressure with a clean cloth or bandage for several minutes to stop bleeding.

  • 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. Don't 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 isn't fully cleaned can cause scarring and infection.

  • For a lot of bleeding, press on the wound firmly for 10 to 15 minutes with a clean cloth. Don't stop to look at the cut. If the cloth becomes soaked with blood, put a new cloth on top of the old cloth. Don't 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.

  • For bruises, blisters, or swollen areas caused by injury: Place an ice pack or cold pack on the area every 1 to 2 hours for 10 to 15 minutes. Do this for the first 24 hours. To make an ice pack, put ice cubes in a plastic bag that seals at the top. Wrap this in a thin, clean cloth or towel. Don't put ice directly against the skin.

  • Keep the wound out of direct sunlight. Use sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 or higher on healed cuts and wounds. This is to help minimize 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 medical care right away for cuts and wounds on the face that are:

  • Bleeding without stopping after 10 to 15 minutes of direct pressure, or that start to bleed again. 

  • On the eyelids or affect 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 think there may be a broken bone (fracture) or brain injury

  • Involving injuries to teeth

  • Showing signs of infection, such as increased warmth, redness, swelling, or drainage

Also call your child's healthcare provider if:

  • Your child hasn't had a tetanus vaccine in 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 near the eyes or in the ears or nose, such as cotton swabs or pencils.

  • Teach your child not to walk or run while holding an object in their mouth.

  • Teach your child not to suck or chew on hard, sharp, or pointed objects.

  • Teach your children not to put their faces near the face or mouth of any animal.

  • Have your child wear protective eye, ear, or face guards for sports activities that could cause injury.

Online Medical Reviewer: Eric Perez MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Ronald Karlin MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Tara Novick BSN MSN
Date Last Reviewed: 4/1/2023
© 2000-2024 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.