Getting cut anywhere on your body can be alarming. But, getting cut underneath your hair on your scalp can be even worse. First, it can be hard to determine just how severe the cut might be at first. This is especially true if you have a lot of hair. Even if you can’t see the damage right away, you should never ignore a cut on the scalp!
Cuts on the scalp tend to bleed more than on other areas of the body. This is because it has a lot of blood vessels that are close to the skin. So, even a minor laceration on the scalp might bleed more than if it were located somewhere else. That can make for a tense situation.
Being able to see the cut itself and determine the severity is the first step in taking care of it correctly. Depending on what caused it, you may be able to get away with just cleaning it and letting it heal naturally.
Sometimes, though, more attention is needed. If you can’t get the bleeding to stop or the cut is deep, you may need medical help. Even if a laceration starts to heal on its own, there are still some risks to be aware of. Of course, no one ever wants to or plans on experiencing this type of injury. But, it does happen. So, it’s important to be as prepared as possible for your own safety and well-being.
How to treat a cut on the scalp? This guide will cover the critical steps you should take if you ever have a laceration on your scalp. Even a minor cut can bleed a lot. There are things everyone needs to know about these types of cuts, including when it’s a good idea to see a doctor.
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The risks of a cut on your scalp change depending on how severe the cut is and depending on what caused it. The two most significant risks for a laceration on your scalp are a possible infection and too much bleeding.
As stated earlier in this guide, the scalp tends to bleed when it’s cut open more than other areas of the body. The blood vessels there make it easy for a lot of blood to pool around the injury quickly. Not only can that be a scary sight, but it can be dangerous if it’s not taken care of right away.
Infection is another big problem for an injury on the scalp. Things like dirt, oils, and sweat can easily get into a cut on your head. Along with those things, different types of bacteria can get into the open wound. If that happens, an infection could form. No matter how small the cut is, any opening of the skin puts you at risk for a possible infection.
Finally, if the cut was caused by a heavy object, you may be at risk for a concussion.
Symptoms of a concussion include:
If you experience any of those symptoms after getting hit in the head, you may need to take extra steps before treating the wound. There isn’t much that can be done for the symptoms of concussion except to give it time. But, things like falling asleep can be dangerous.
Again, the first thing you should focus on when you get a cut on your scalp is to keep the bleeding under control. As stated above, applying pressure is the best thing to do. But, there are steps you can take to make the process easier and safer.
You can do these steps on your own, or have someone help you with them if you’re in too much pain:
Now that you know some of the risks associated with a scalp wound, it’s important to know what to do about them. Cuts on the scalp can all be different depending on their size and what caused them. So, when is it okay to treat it yourself and when should you see a doctor?
You should seek out medical attention if you experience any of the following:
You don’t have to experience these exact situations to go to the doctor for a cut on the scalp. If you’re at all worried about the cut or how to treat it, your doctor can either give you something for it or guide you toward self-treatment options.
A doctor will be able to tell you after a quick examination of the injury whether you need stitches. But, if you didn’t see a doctor right away, that doesn’t mean you still won’t need to get the wound closed up.
The first sign that you should get stitches for a cut on your head is if it keeps bleeding. The bleeding may have initially stopped, but if you find that blood is still trickling periodically, you probably need stitches. This means that the cut isn’t healing on its own.
Every time it gets split open again, you risk infection. It can also be painful, and it may even get worse. It’s best to get stitches within 24 hours of the cut. If the bleeding has slowed down but hasn’t completely stopped, it’s better to get stitches than run the risk of infection.
You can probably give yourself a good idea of whether your scalp needs stitches just by looking at the cut. If you or someone else can see the cut, examine it closely. Does it look like the skin would naturally go back together on its own, or with the help of a bandage? If not, stitches are likely needed. Keep in mind that other tissue underneath the skin may also be affected by the cut. It’s important that this tissue gets stitched back together.
Finally, stitching a laceration closed will help it to look better. You may not be too worried about this if your hair covers the cut. But, a cut that closes on its own without stitching could have crooked lines and may cause scarring. Stitching makes for a neater healing process and minimal scarring. If the cut is visible at all, you may want to get it stitched up because it will look better.
The time it takes for a cut on the scalp to heal depends on how you treat it and the size of the laceration.
If your cut was left open, the healing time could vary. Within about five days, your white blood cells will begin repairing the bed of the wound and helping to fight off infection. This is also when healthy tissue will start to re-grow.
But, it can take up to three weeks for the new tissue to completely close up the wound. Keep in mind that the timeline for healing depends on if the wound doesn’t re-open or become infected. If it does open up again, the time will obviously take longer.
If you received stitches or staples in your head to close the wound, you can expect to get them removed in about a week. Some doctors offer stitches that will dissolve on their own. In most cases, you won’t have to have stitches any longer than two weeks.
Just because your stitches are removed doesn’t necessarily mean the cut will be completely healed. It just means it is closed and secured enough that it’s unlikely it will come open again. You should still care for the laceration and take precautions for a few days, or even a few weeks depending on how bad the cut was.
It’s easy for people who get stitches to have a lot of questions about how to care for them. Can I shower with stitches? Should I apply an antibiotic cream? What happens if I accidentally scratch one of the stitches? It’s important to know about the right kind of care while you have your stitches and after-care.
Keep these tips in mind to help speed up the healing process:
One of the primary risks, when you have a cut on your scalp, is an infection. That’s why it’s so important to keep it clean or use stitches if it’s a deep wound. Getting an infection in an open laceration can create problems and may mean you need serious medical attention.
There are some tell-tale signs of a possible infection. If you experience any of these symptoms after getting a cut on your scalp, see your doctor immediately.
You may need some type of antibiotic to get rid of the infection:
Don’t ignore these symptoms for too long if you start to feel any of them. It doesn’t take long for an infection to spread. That means it can reach other areas of your body quickly. Infections on the scalp can be especially concerning. Some bacterial infections can get into your bloodstream or even your brain. The sooner you treat the infection after noticing minor symptoms, the better.
The best treatment for a cut on your scalp is to either get it closed up or cover it somehow, depending on its size. Once you’ve been able to stop the bleeding and clean the cut, you can start officially treating it until it heals completely.
Once the cut has been cleaned, cover it with a sterile bandage or gauze. You can use a topical antibiotic cream along with the gauze to help prevent infection. It’s a good idea to change that bandage every day. This might not be necessary for other parts of the body. But, thanks to sweat, dirt, and oils, it’s easy for the scalp to get dirty quickly.
You can expect a scab to form within a few days. This is a sign that the laceration is healing. But, it’s important not to disturb that scab. It helps to prevent infection and will keep you on the right track for a faster healing time.
As the scab forms, the wound on your scalp may start to become itchy. It’s important to resist the urge to scratch it. Scratching at a scab can cause it to come off. This can make your scalp start bleeding again and may put you at a higher risk for infection.
When it comes to treating a cut on the scalp at home, the best thing to do is be aware of the injury. Try to avoid touching it too much, other than to apply an antibiotic cream or change your bandages. If you treat it properly, it will have the chance to heal faster.
As we stated earlier in this guide, you’re less likely to get a scar from a cut if it is stitched up properly. How cleanly the wound heals will play a significant role in whether there is a scar. A scar may not be totally noticeable if you have a lot of hair. But if not, no one wants to see an unsightly scar on the head. And, it may be raised enough that you’ll be able to feel it when you touch your scalp.
To encourage minimal scarring, follow these tips:
If you received stitches or staples, you should also follow your doctor’s guidelines for self-care and scarring prevention. Everyone is a little different, and no two lacerations are the same.
Because the scalp tends to bleed so much, a small laceration can be frightening. But, there is no need to worry if you take the right steps to treating it. Getting the bleeding to stop is the most important thing to do right away. Then, you need to take precautions to prevent an infection.
Unfortunately, some scary side effects can go along with a cut on the scalp. If you’re not sure how big or deep it is, it could be more severe than you think. Things like concussions are also a possibility.
It’s possible to treat a laceration on your scalp at home safely. Many times, small cuts won’t need stitches. But, if you’re uncertain about how to treat it or you’re worried about an infection, start using an antibiotic cream or talk to your doctor about your options.
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