Cut (Laceration) on Scalp under Hair? What You Should Do!

Linda White

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.

What Are the Medical Risks of a Scalp Wound?

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.

  • Important: The best thing you can do is try to stop the bleeding as quickly as possible. This can be done using a compress and by applying pressure to the wound. If the bleeding doesn’t stop or soaks through a cloth/compress, you may need immediate medical attention. Losing too much blood can cause you to blackout.

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:

  • Sensitivity to light
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • A headache
  • Tiredness
  • Lack of balance
  • Memory loss

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.

How Can I Stop the Bleeding of a Cut on the Scalp?

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:

  1. Make sure your hands are clean before touching the exposed wound. This will prevent any dirt or bacteria from entering the laceration.
  2. Get into a position where it’s easier to see the wound. If someone is helping you, it may be easier for you to lie down, so they get a clear visual of the cut.
  3. If there is any debris in the cut, try to remove it gently. You don’t need to dig into the wound or try to clean it. But, visible pieces of anything should be taken out if it doesn’t cause more tearing.
  4. Almost any type of clean material will work to cover the wound. Anything from gauze to a piece of clean cloth can be pressed to the cut. Pressure should be applied evenly and steadily.
  5. Apply continued pressure for at least 15 minutes. Don’t let up on the pressure that entire time. If the cut is bleeding so badly that it seems through the material, you should change it out quickly for a clean one then continue the applied pressure.
  6. Bleeding can continue for longer than 15 minutes, but intense bleeding usually stops by that time. If you are still profusely bleeding from the head after 15 minutes of pressure, you may need emergency medical attention.

When Should I See a Doctor?

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:

  • Once you locate the injury, try to determine how big the cut is. A large cut may need medical attention even if you can stop the bleeding. It may need stitches (or staples) to be closed up and prevent infection.
  • If you cannot stop the bleeding on your scalp even after applying pressure.
  • If you feel you have any symptoms of a concussion.
  • If the object that cut you was heavy, a doctor should look at the cut. In some cases, blunt objects can cause bruising or bleeding to the brain. If the cut was deep enough to pierce through bone, seek medical attention immediately. A doctor may do a neurological exam. This is to make sure you aren’t experiencing any dangerous symptoms.
  • Sometimes, head injuries can also involve the eyes. It depends on where you were cut.

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.

When Should I Get Stitches for a Scalp Laceration?

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.

What Is the Healing Time for a Scalp Laceration?

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.

What are the medical risks of a scalp wound?

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.

How to Care for a Cut on the Scalp with Stitches

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:

  • Wash the affected area with a gentle soap and water twice each day. Avoid using hair products that contain alcohol or hydrogen peroxide. These can hinder the healing process and if the cut is open at all they can be painful. Some people may get better results from using a mild, natural shampoo without any chemicals.
  • In most cases, it’s safe to get your stitches wet after 48 hours. If you have any gauze or dressings over the stitches, remove them before taking a shower. Even after 48 hours, try not to get your sutures ‘soaked.’ Instead, briefly get them wet under the water of the showerhead.
  • After you shower, pat your stitches dry. Don’t ‘rub’ a towel over your head as this may irritate the sutures or even pull one of them out.
  • Some doctors will encourage you to keep your stitches dry. If your doctor has suggested this, you can wear a shower cap or take a bath in the tub, using a cloth to clean your body while avoiding your scalp.
  • You can help to ward off infection by using an antibiotic cream. A topical antibiotic on the scalp can help to keep it clean and may even speed up the healing process. Be sure to use an ointment you can trust or one where you know the ingredients. Some people experience allergic reactions to antibiotic creams.
  • Do what you can to avoid touching the stitches. For example, if you’re washing your hair, it might be easy to pull on one of the sutures accidentally. Be mindful of itching your scalp, too. It’s important to be aware that your stitches are there at all times.

What Are the Signs of an Infection?

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:

  • Redness at the site of the injury
  • Swelling
  • An increase in pain
  • Fever
  • Pus or liquid coming from the cut

when should I get stitches for a scalp laceration?

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.

What Are the Treatments for a Cut on the Scalp?

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.

How Can I Prevent a Scalp Laceration from Scarring?

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:

  • Avoid picking at the scab that forms over the cut.
  • Keep the affected area moist. You can do this with an antibiotic cream or petroleum jelly.
  • Wash the area daily with mild soap and warm water.
  • Change bandages daily, if using.
  • After the wound has healed, apply sunscreen. This can help to reduce the chance of discoloration.

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.

Copyright 2018 by DryScalpGone.