Treating Injuries to the Scalp and Face

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Wounds of the scalp and face often bleed profusely because of the rich network of blood vessels beneath the skin. Unlike in other parts of the body, wounds in the scalp and face would usually lead to profuse bleeding even if there are no major blood vessels that have been severed. In healthy adults, minor lacerations are not a serious problem. Blood clots rapidly and is able to manage the bleeding. However, if a major artery in the face or scalp is severed, bleeding can be very severe. And if no bleeding is not controlled, it can be quickly fatal. In addition, severe trauma in the head can cause skull fractures and even airway obstruction. Head injuries may involve neck injury as well as spinal cord injuries. Prompt and proper first aid is essential in ensuring the life of the victim. Neck and spinal cord injuries can lead to fatality or irreversible disability.

The management of wounds to the scalp and face is basically the same as any other soft tissue injury.

  1. Keep the patient calm.
  2. Open the airway and monitor breathing.
  3. Apply gentle pressure with clean or sterile dressing using the palm of your hands. If the dressing becomes soaked, apply a new dressing.
  4. In case of severe wounds or bleeding persists for several minutes, call 911 or your local emergency services.
  5. Cover the wound using bandage to keep harmful bacteria out. Change the bandage regularly.

Treating Injuries to the Scalp and Face

Aside from these general first aid procedures, there are other considerations you have to put in mind when treating face and scalp wounds.

  1. DO NOT clean or clear the surface of the scalp wound. Sweeping or rubbing action can cause additional bleeding by severing delicate blood vessels in this part of the body. In addition, it can complicate skull fractures, if any.
  2. DO NOT apply finger pressure on the wound to stop bleeding. The possibility of a skull fracture should always be considered, therefore you must avoid applying any pressure that can force skull fragments or bone edges into the brain.
  3. DO remove imbedded objects that have penetrated into the cheek and exit into the oral cavity. Accidentally dislodging the object can cause airway obstruction.
  4. DO stabilize the neck and head, especially if neck injury is suspected. If spinal cord injury is likely, avoid moving the victim unnecessarily. If the victim needs to be moved, make sure the neck and the body is in proper alignment.
  5. DO keep the victim’s head raised to control bleeding. However, for an unconscious victim, DO NOT place into a head-raised position as it can complicate spinal injuries. It can also lead to aspiration, in case the victim vomits.

If you want to learn more about how to manage specific first aid situations, you can complete first aid training course offered by organizations such as the workplace approved. Visit your local workplace approved chapter for schedules.

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  • All firstaidcprhamilton.ca content is reviewed by a medical professional and / sourced to ensure as much factual accuracy as possible.

  • We have strict sourcing guidelines and only link to reputable websites, academic research institutions and medical articles.

  • If you feel that any of our content is inaccurate, out-of-date, or otherwise questionable, please contact us through our contact us page.