If you have a facial injury, you can easily treat a minor wound or cut. However, a larger or deep wound or cut will need medical attention.
A large wound, which is gaping open, will need to be professionally closed. It may require stitches, glue or medical sticky tape.
Wounds caused by sharp objects, such as knives, can cause internal damage even if the outside wound only appears to be small. (See below for first aid treatment for an object inside a wound.)
A wound or cut is considered to be deep if tendons or other internal parts can be seen. A gaping wound is one where the edges of the cut cannot be pulled back together.
Looking after yourself
If you have a minor injury on your face, the following advice may help:
- Wash the injured area thoroughly but gently. If there is anything in the cut or graze, such as gravel, try to remove as much as you can but do it gently. It is important to get as much debris out as possible to avoid getting an infection. Pat the area dry with a clean cloth.
- Try to let the air get to it. Leave the cut or graze open unless there is pus, discharge or blood coming from it.
- If the injury is likely to get dirty or you are going somewhere that may have lots of dirt or dust in the air, cover the injury with a plaster or sterile dressing.
- If the plaster or dressing gets wet or your injury leaks through it, change the dressing regularly until the wound has healed.
- If you have not had a full course of tetanus immunisation or if your boosters are not up to date contact your doctor.
- Check the wound daily. You should look out for increasing redness, swelling, pain, or yellow discharge, as these are signs of a possible infection.
If you’re not sure what to do, call healthdirect on 1800 022 222.
If you have a wound or cut, here is first aid advice:
- Use a clean cloth or pad and apply direct pressure to the wound. If you do not have anything available, use your fingers until a sterile dressing is available. Be very careful if you think a bone may be broken.
- If the bleeding is very heavy, it may seep through the dressing. You should use a second dressing to cover the first one.
- If the bleeding continues through both dressings and pads, remove the second bandage only and apply a new one.
- If the wound is not bleeding bathe with clean water.
- Pat dry with a clean cloth, then cover the wound with a dry, sterile, non-sticky dressing to help prevent infection.
If the bleeding can’t be stopped, see your doctor or go to your nearest emergency department.
- If you are looking after someone with a head injury, keep a close eye on them.
- If they are pale, or have cold or clammy skin, or have fast or shallow breathing, or have a fast or weak pulse, call triple zero (000) and ask for an ambulance.
Object inside a wound
If there is an object, such as a knife, long shards of glass or a stick, inside a wound you must leave it where it is. Removing it could cause more damage or serious bleeding.
You should go to the nearest emergency department or call triple zero (000) for an ambulance. In the meantime, do the following:
- If it is safe to do so, you should apply firm pressure around the sides of the embedded object and raise the injured area above the heart if this is possible.
- Cover the wound, and the object if possible, in a sterile dressing.
- Then stabilise the protruding object by surrounding it with thick layers of pads or dressings. Do not press down on or wriggle the object.
- If possible continue until the padding is higher than the object then apply a loose bandage over it. You may not be able to do this final step with long objects like sticks.
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: August 2015