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Facial injury

4-minute read

An injury to the face can be caused by almost anything, such as:

  • falling over
  • cutting yourself shaving
  • being struck in the face by an object, such as a ball or twig
  • being assaulted or hit.

An injury can include:

If you have an injury to your face, you should try to stop any bleeding. If you have a minor wound, try to clean off or remove any debris from it. You should also keep a close eye on it to make sure it doesn’t get infected or re-injured.

Learn more about facial injury treatments.

If you have a deeper wound, cover it as well as possible and see your doctor or go to the nearest emergency department.

A bleeding or cut tongue

Your tongue is a sensitive muscle that can be injured by anything sharp or rough, such as your teeth, cutlery or sharp pieces of food. It is also possible to injure your tongue if, for example, you fall over or play sport. You may bite your tongue, causing it to bleed or swell.

A cut on your tongue may bleed a lot. This may make you think your injury is worse than it really is. Usually a cut on your tongue will heal quickly and not cause you any problems.

To treat a small cut on your tongue, rinse your mouth with salt water to help keep it clean. If it won’t stop bleeding, firmly press the injury with gauze or a piece of clean cloth then see you doctor or go to the nearest emergency department.

If you smoke, you should avoid smoking for as long as possible. Try not to smoke while the cut is fresh.

Wounds and grazes

Wounds and grazes to the face can often be caused by falling over or knocking into something by accident. Bumps and knocks are a common part of day-to-day life.

If you have a minor cut, wound or graze on your face, take a look at the facial injury treatment page for advice.

If you are bleeding from your lip or inner cheek, use a piece of rolled gauze or clean cloth between the wound and the lip and cheek.

Bruising

A bruise often appears after you are knocked, bumped or pinched. Some people bruise very easily while others don’t – it depends how tender your blood vessels are.

A bruise is made when blood leaks out from the small blood vessels under the skin. As the blood has nowhere to go, it forms a purplish-red mark on the skin. The bruise will change colour and eventually fade away.

Hold an ice pack over the bruise to reduce swelling. A frozen bag of peas wrapped in a tea towel makes a good ice pack. Do not put ice directly on the skin. The bag of peas can be repeatedly re-frozen but you must not then eat the re-frozen peas.

The swelling should go down quickly, leaving just the bruising. If the swelling stays then speak to your doctor.

Nosebleed

While there are many causes of nosebleeds, they can often occur as a result of a bump or knock to the head or face. Look here for how to treat a nosebleed.

If you have a facial injury that means you cannot put pressure on your nose to stop the bleeding, go to your nearest emergency department. You should avoid any strenuous activity, such as playing sports, for 24 hours after the bleeding has stopped.

Deliberate injury

If you were assaulted or hit by another person, or suspect that the facial injuries of someone close to you were caused deliberately and were not the result of an accident, you should seek help from a healthcare professional as soon as possible. Talk to your doctor, community nurse, emergency department or school nurse.

If you are unsure who to speak to, call healthdirect on 1800 022 222 to discuss your concerns with a registered nurse.

Last reviewed: November 2017

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