Scalp Laceration: Stitches or Staples (Child)

A scalp laceration is a cut in the skin of the head. It can cause redness and swelling. It can also bleed a lot. Your child will need stitches or staples to close a deep laceration. Some of the hair around the cut may need to be removed. This is done so the healthcare provider can see and treat the laceration more easily. Your child may also need a tetanus shot. This is given if the cause of the laceration may cause tetanus, and if your child is not up-to-date on the tetanus vaccine.

Home care

The healthcare provider may prescribe antibiotics. These are to prevent infection. They may be pills or a liquid for your child to take by mouth. Or they may be in a cream or ointment to put on the skin. Antibiotic pills must be taken every day until they are gone. Don’t stop giving them to your child if he or she feels better. The provider may also prescribe medicine for pain. Follow all instructions for giving this medicine to your child. Don’t give your child aspirin unless you are told to by the healthcare provider.

General care

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

  • In the first 2 days, you can carefully rinse your child’s hair with lukewarm water. This is to remove blood or dirt. Don't wash the wound directly.

  • After 2 days, you can shampoo your child’s hair normally. Don’t rub or scrub the cut. Rinse with lukewarm water.

  • Don’t let your child soak his or her head in the tub or go swimming until the stitches or staples have been removed.

  • Change bandages or dressings as directed. Replace any bandage that becomes wet or dirty.

  • Make sure your child does not scratch, rub, or pick at the area.

  • Check your child and the wound daily for any of the signs listed below.

Follow-up care

Follow up with your child’s healthcare provider, or as advised.

When to seek medical advice

When to seek medical advice

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

  • Fever of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher, or as directed by your child's healthcare provider.

  • Wound reopens or bleeds

  • Pain gets worse

  • Stitches or staples come apart or fall out too soon

  • Warmth, redness, swelling, or foul-smelling fluid from the wound

© 2000-2021 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.
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