What is facial problems and injuries?

Facial Problems and Injuries
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Facial injuries: Overview

At one time or another, everyone has had a minor facial injury that caused pain, swelling, or bruising. Home treatment is usually all that's needed for mild bumps or bruises.

Causes of facial injuries

Facial injuries most often occur during:

  • Sports or recreational activities, like ice hockey, basketball, rugby, soccer, or martial arts.
  • Work-related tasks or projects around the home.
  • Car crashes.
  • Falls.
  • Fights.

In children, most facial injuries occur during sports or play or are caused by falls. Minor facial injuries in young children tend to be less severe than similar facial injuries that occur in older children or adults. Young children are less likely to break a facial bone. That's because they have fat pads that cushion their faces, and their bones are more flexible. But young children are more likely to be bitten in the face by an animal.

Head injuries may occur at the same time as a facial injury. So be sure to check for symptoms of a head injury.

Types of injuries

Facial injuries may be caused by a direct blow, a penetrating injury, or a fall. Pain may be sudden and severe. Bruising and swelling may start soon after the injury. Acute injuries include:

  • A cut or puncture to your face or inside your mouth. This often occurs with even a minor injury. But a cut or puncture is likely to occur when a jaw or facial bone is broken. The bone may come through the skin or poke into the mouth.
  • Bruises from a tear or rupture of small blood vessels under the skin.
  • Broken bones, such as a fractured cheekbone.
  • A dislocated jaw. This may occur when the lower jawbone (mandible) is pulled apart from one or both of the joints connecting it to the base of the skull at the temporomandibular (TM) joints. This can cause problems even if the jaw pops back into place.


Treatment for a facial injury may include first aid and medicine. In some cases, surgery is needed. Treatment depends on:

  • The location and type of injury, and how bad it is.
  • How long ago the injury occurred.
  • Your age, health condition, and other activities, such as work, sports, or hobbies.

When you've had a facial injury, it's important to look for signs of other injuries, such as a spinal injury, an eye injury, or an injury to the mouth, such as a cut lip or injured tooth.

Caring for a minor facial injury

Home treatment may help treat problems and prevent complications after a minor injury to your face. Try the following tips to help care for a facial injury.

  • Use ice.
    • Put ice or a cold pack on your face for 10 to 20 minutes at a time. Try to do this every 1 to 2 hours for the next 3 days (when you are awake).
  • Keep your head elevated.
    • Do this even while you sleep. This will help reduce swelling.
  • Apply heat.
    • After 2 or 3 days, you can try applying heat to the area that hurts. Types of heat therapy include microwavable packs and disposable heating patches.
    • Apply heat for 10 to 20 minutes at a time.
    • You might also try switching between cold and heat.
  • Don't take aspirin or other NSAIDs.
    • For the first 24 hours after your injury, don't take aspirin or other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Aspirin prolongs the clotting time of blood. It may cause more nose or facial bleeding.
  • Eat wisely.
    • Eat soft foods and cold foods and drinks to reduce jaw and mouth pain.
    • Avoid hot foods or drinks. These may increase swelling around the mouth.
  • Don't smoke.

    Smoking slows healing because it decreases blood supply and delays tissue repair.

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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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