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 method, 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're not up to date on your tetanus vaccine.

Home care

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

  • Follow your healthcare provider's specific directions on washing your hair and scalp. During the first 2 days you may carefully rinse your hair in the shower to remove blood and glass or dirt particles, or as advised by your provider. After 2 days you may shower and shampoo your hair normally. Don't scrub the 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 healthcare provider 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 provider may prescribe an antibiotic cream or ointment to prevent infection. Don't stop taking this medicine until you've finished the medicine that was prescribed, or your provider tells you to stop.

  • Your provider 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 provider before using these medicines if you have chronic liver or kidney disease. Also talk with your provider if you've ever had a stomach ulcer or digestive tract bleeding.

  • To help prevent scarring, put sunscreen on the wound after it has healed. Use a sunscreen with SPF of 30 or higher. Reapply sunscreen often.

Follow-up care

Follow up with your healthcare provider as advised. Check the wound daily for the signs of infection listed below. Stitches or staples are often 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 get medical advice

Call your healthcare provider right away if any of the following 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 advised by your provider

  • Chills

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

  • Wound edges reopen

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