Lip or Mouth Laceration (Child)  

A laceration is a cut through the skin. If a cut is on the outside of the lip, it may be closed with stitches or left open. Cuts inside the mouth may be stitched or left open, depending on the size. When stitches are used in the mouth, they are often the kind that dissolve on their own.

Your child may need a tetanus shot if he or she isn't current on this vaccination and the object that caused the cut may lead to tetanus.

Home care

  • Follow all instructions for prescribed medicines.

    • The healthcare provider may prescribe an antibiotic taken by mouth (oral). This is to help prevent infection. Make sure your child takes the medicine every day until it is gone even if your child feels better or you are told to stop.

    • Your provider may advise pain medicine if your child has pain. Give the medicine as directed. Don’t give your child aspirin unless told to do so. Don’t give your child any other medicine without first asking the provider.

  • Follow the healthcare provider’s instructions on how to care for the cut.

  • Wash your hands with soap and clean, running water before and after caring for your child. This is to help prevent infection.

  • If a bandage was used, leave it in place for 24 hours or as directed. Replace it if it becomes wet or dirty. After 24 hours, change it once a day or as directed.

  • Clean the wound daily. First, remove the bandage, if used. Then wash the area gently with soap and warm water, or as directed by your child’s provider. Use a wet cotton swab to loosen and remove any blood or crust that forms. After cleaning, apply a thin layer of antibiotic ointment, if advised. Then put on a new bandage.

  • Caring for stitches:  Clean the wound daily. First remove the bandage, if used. Then wash the area gently with soap and warm water, or as directed by your child’s provider. Use a wet cotton swab to loosen and remove any blood or crust that forms. After cleaning, apply a thin layer of antibiotic ointment, if advised. Then put on a new bandage. If stitches were used on the inside of the mouth, they will likely not need to be removed. They will dissolve on their own. The provider can tell you how long this will take. 

  • Allow your child to shower as normal after the first 24 hours. But don't let your child put their head under water or swim until the stitches dissolve or are removed. Your child may also take a sponge bath instead of a tub bath. Don't soak the cut in water.

  • Check your child’s wound daily for signs of infection listed below.

  • Make sure your child doesn't scratch, rub, or pick at the wound or closures. A baby may need to wear scratch mittens.

Special care for mouth wounds

  • To ease mild pain, you can use a numbing gel. This is available in most drugstores and grocery stores. Put the gel on the wound with a cotton swab or with a clean finger.

  • Make sure your child drinks enough liquids despite the mouth cut. This is to prevent fluid loss (dehydration). Cold drinks and ice pops may be easier for your child to handle.

  • Give your child soft foods to eat, to help prevent pain while eating. Don’t give foods that may hurt, such as salty or acidic foods.

  • Have your child rinse his or her mouth with warm water after each meal.

  • Explain to your child in an age-appropriate way what you are doing as you care for the wound.

Follow-up care

Follow up with your child’s healthcare provider, or as advised. Make a follow-up appointment to have the stitches removed, if directed.

When to get medical advice

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

  • Wound bleeds more than a small amount or bleeding doesn't stop

  • Signs of infection occur:

    • Increasing pain in the wound. Babies may show pain with crying or fussing that can't be soothed.

    • Increasing wound redness or swelling

    • Pus or bad odor coming from the wound

    • Fever of 100.4°F (38ºC) or higher, or as directed by the provider

    • Chills

  • Wound edges reopen

  • Stitches come apart or fall out, or surgical tape falls off before 5 days

  • Wound changes colors

  • Numbness occurs around the wound 

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