Scalp Laceration, Stitches or Staples

A laceration is a cut through the skin. A scalp laceration may require stitches or staples. It may also be closed with a hair positioning technique such as braiding. There are a lot of blood vessels in the scalp. Because of this, a lot of bleeding is common with scalp cuts. You may need a tetanus shot if you are not up to date on your tetanus vaccine.

Home care

These guidelines will help you care for your laceration at home:

  • During the first 2 days you may carefully rinse your hair in the shower to remove blood and glass or dirt particles. After 2 days you may shower and shampoo your hair normally. Don't scrub repaired area or let water run on it for a long time.

  • Have someone help you clean your wound every day:

    • In the shower, wash the area with soap and water. Use a wet cotton swab to loosen and remove any blood or crust that forms.

    • After cleaning, keep the wound clean and dry. Talk with your doctor about applying antibiotic ointment to the wound. Apply a fresh bandage.

  • Don't put your head underwater until the stitches or staples have been removed. This means no swimming.

  • Your doctor may prescribe an antibiotic cream or ointment to prevent infection. Don't stop taking this medicine until you have finished the prescribed course or your doctor tells you to stop.

  • Your doctor may prescribe medicines for pain. If no pain medicines were prescribed, you can use over-the-counter pain medicines. Follow instructions for taking these medicines. Talk with your doctor before using these medicines if you have chronic liver or kidney disease. Also talk with your doctor if you have ever had a stomach ulcer or gastrointestinal bleeding.

Follow-up care

Follow up with your healthcare provider, or as advised. Check the wound daily for the signs of infection listed below. Stitches or staples are usually removed from the scalp in about 7 to 10 days.

Call 911

Call 911 if this occurs:

  • Bleeding can't be controlled by direct pressure

When to seek medical advice

Call your healthcare provider right away if any of these occur:

  • Signs of infection, including increasing pain in the wound, redness, swelling, or pus coming from the wound

  • Fever of 100.4ºF (38ºC) or higher, or as directed by your healthcare provider

  • Stitches or staples come apart or fall out before 7 days

  • Wound edges re-open

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