What is cuts on the scalp?

Cuts on the Scalp
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When does a head wound need emergency treatment?

It is important to know the difference between head wounds you can treat at home and head wounds that need emergency treatment.

If a cut from a head injury is deep enough to have penetrated the skull, emergency treatment is needed. Call 911 or other emergency services immediately. Do not apply pressure to a head wound if:

  • The skull is deformed. Signs of deformity may include sunken areas, visible bone fragments, or exposed brain.
  • The injury involves the eye.
  • A cut is deep enough to pierce the skull.

How to stop bleeding from a minor head wound

Minor cuts on the head often bleed heavily because the face and scalp have many blood vessels close to the surface of the skin. Although this amount of bleeding may be alarming, many times the injury is not severe and the bleeding will stop with treatment you can do at home.

  1. Wash your hands well with soap and water, if available.
  2. Put on medical gloves before applying pressure to the wound.

    If gloves are not available, to apply pressure you can:

    • Use several layers of fabric or plastic bags between your hands and the wound.
    • Use your bare hands to apply pressure only as a last resort.
  3. Have the person lie down.
  4. Remove any visible objects from the wound.
  5. Do not attempt to clean out the wound.
  6. Press firmly on the wound with gauze or a clean cloth.
    • If you don't have gauze or a clean cloth, use the cleanest material available.
    • If there is an object in the wound that you can't remove, apply pressure around the object, not directly over it.
  7. Apply steady pressure for a full 15 minutes.
    • Use a clock to time the 15 minutes. Resist the urge to peek after a few minutes to see whether bleeding has stopped.
    • If blood soaks through the cloth, apply another one without lifting the first.
  8. If needed, continue direct pressure and get help.
    • If moderate to severe bleeding has not slowed or stopped, continue direct pressure while getting help.
    • Mild bleeding usually stops on its own or slows to an ooze or trickle after 15 minutes of pressure. It may ooze or trickle for up to 45 minutes.
    • Do all you can to keep the wound clean and avoid further injury to the area.
  9. Watch for signs of shock.

    Shock is a life-threatening situation that requires emergency care. Signs of shock (most of which will be present) include:

    • Passing out (losing consciousness).
    • Feeling very dizzy or lightheaded, like you may pass out.
    • Feeling very weak or having trouble standing up.
    • Being less alert. You may suddenly be unable to respond to questions, or you may be confused, restless, or fearful.

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The content above contains general health information provided by Healthwise, Incorporated, and reviewed by its medical experts. This content should not replace the advice of your healthcare provider. Not all treatments or services described are offered as services by us. For recommended treatments, please consult your healthcare provider.

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