Cuts and Wounds of the Mouth and Lips
Children often get minor cuts and
wounds to the mouth and lips while playing, climbing, or joining in sports activities.
of these injuries can be handled at home with simple first aid treatment. The gums,
and lips have a lot of blood supply. When cuts happen, these areas may bleed a lot.
areas also tend to heal quickly and are less likely to need stitches than other parts
First aid for shallow cuts and
To take care of cuts and
Calm your child and let them
know you can help.
Wash your hands well.
Apply pressure with a clean
cloth or bandage for several minutes to stop bleeding.
If the wound is on the lips
or outside area of the mouth, wash it well with soap and water once bleeding has
stopped. Don't scrub the wound. Remove any dirt particles from the area and let
the water from the faucet run over it for several minutes. A dirty cut or scrape
that is not well cleaned can cause scarring. Then:
Apply an antiseptic
lotion or cream.
Give your child an ice
pop or ice cube to suck on to help reduce bleeding and swelling.
Check the area each day
and keep it clean and dry.
Don't blow on the
wound, as this can cause germs to grow.
Use a sunscreen (sun
protection factor, or SPF, at least 15 or greater) on healed cuts and wounds
to help prevent scarring. Don't use in the first 1 to 2 weeks after injury
as it is still healing during this time.
If the wound is inside the
mouth, rinse the area well with cool water for several minutes. Remove any dirt
particles from the area. Then:
Even small cuts on the lips
may cause a visible difference in the border or outline of the lips. These wounds
may need stitches to keep the borders even and reduce the risk of scarring Cuts
that happen in the corner of the mouth where the upper and lower lips come
together can have very severe bleeding.
Cuts inside the mouth, even
if they seem large, often heal on their own without the need for stitches. But if
they are gaping open and food will get caught in them, they need stitches.
Bruises, blisters, or
swelling on the lips caused by injury may be treated by sucking on ice pops or ice
cubes or by applying a cold pack to the area every 1 to 2 hours for 10 to 15
minutes for the first 24 hours.
When should I get immediate medical care
for my child?
Your child's healthcare provider
will talk with you about treatment for cuts and wounds of the mouth that need more
minor treatment at home. In general, get your child quick medical care for cuts and
wounds of the mouth that are:
Bleeding and don't stop after
10 to 15 minutes of direct pressure. If the bleeding is extreme, hold pressure
for at least 10 minutes without stopping to look at the cut. If the cloth becomes
soaked with blood, put a new cloth on top of the old cloth. Don't lift the
original cloth. Keep in mind that facial wounds often bleed heavily, even under
Deep or longer than 1/2
Large and on the face
Caused by a puncture wound or
dirty or rusty object
Embedded with debris, such as
dirt, stones, or gravel
Ragged or have separated
Caused by an animal or human
Extremely painful or if you
think there may be a break (fracture) or head or bone injury
- Showing a loose or broken tooth (this is better addressed by a
Showing signs of infection,
such as increased warmth, redness, swelling, or fluid leaking
Going from the inside of the
mouth and go through to the outside
- Going through the border or outline of the lip
Also get your child medical
Your child hasn't had a
tetanus shot in the past 5 years, or if you are unsure when your child's last
tetanus shot was given
You are concerned about the
wound or have any questions
Preventing mouth injuries
To prevent mouth injuries in
Teach your child never to
walk or run while holding an object in their mouth.
Teach your child not to suck
or chew on hard, sharp, or pointed objects, such as pencils.
- Teach your children not to put their face up to an animal's face
Have your child wear a mouth
guard for sports activities that could cause injury.