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Head Laceration

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Oct 31, 2022.

What do I need to know about head lacerations?

A laceration happens when the skin and other tissues are torn. Head lacerations usually bleed more than other types of lacerations.

What should I do if I get a head laceration?

  • Apply pressure to the area with a clean cloth. Pressure will help bleeding to slow or stop.
  • Have someone take you to the nearest healthcare provider.

How is a head laceration treated?

  • The healthcare provider will remove any foreign matter such as glass and gravel from your laceration.
  • Your laceration may be closed with stitches, staples, or medical glue. It may instead be left open for some days if there is risk for infection. It may also be left open if it has been more than 24 hours since your injury happened. You may need to have your laceration cleaned for several days before it is closed.
  • You may need to see a specialist if the laceration is deep or on your face.

How do I care for my head laceration?

  • Rest. Some activities may cause too much pressure in your head. Your laceration may begin to bleed.
  • Ice the area. Apply ice to the area for 15 to 20 minutes every hour or as directed. Use an ice pack, or put crushed ice in a plastic bag. Cover it with a towel before you apply it. Ice helps prevent tissue damage and decreases swelling and pain.
  • Keep the area clean and dry. Your healthcare provider will tell you how to clean the area.
  • Check the area every day for signs of infection. Signs of infection may include redness, pus, and warmth around the area. Call your doctor if you find any signs of infection.
  • Do not smoke. Nicotine and other chemicals in cigarettes and cigars can prevent your wound from healing. Ask your healthcare provider for information if you currently smoke and need help to quit. E-cigarettes or smokeless tobacco still contain nicotine. Talk to your healthcare provider before you use these products.

Have someone call your local emergency number (911 in the US) if:

  • You cannot be woken.
  • Your mood or behavior changes.

When should I call my doctor?

  • The area is red, warm, or has pus coming from it.
  • The area begins to bleed and does not stop after 15 minutes of pressure.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.