Facial Laceration

ExitCare ImageA facial laceration is a cut on the face. Lacerations usually heal quickly, but they need special care to reduce scarring. It will take 1 to 2 years for the scar to lose its redness and to heal completely.


Some facial lacerations may not require closure. Some lacerations may not be able to be closed due to an increased risk of infection. It is important to see your caregiver as soon as possible after an injury to minimize the risk of infection and to maximize the opportunity for successful closure.

If closure is appropriate, pain medicines may be given, if needed. The wound will be cleaned to help prevent infection. Your caregiver will use stitches (sutures), staples, wound glue (adhesive), or skin adhesive strips to repair the laceration. These tools bring the skin edges together to allow for faster healing and a better cosmetic outcome. However, all wounds will heal with a scar.

Once the wound has healed, scarring can be minimized by covering the wound with sunscreen during the day for 1 full year. Use a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30. Sunscreen helps to reduce the pigment that will form in the scar. When applying sunscreen to a completely healed wound, massage the scar for a few minutes to help reduce the appearance of the scar. Use circular motions with your fingertips, on and around the scar. Do not massage a healing wound.


For sutures:

  • Keep the wound clean and dry.

  • If you were given a bandage (dressing), you should change it at least once a day. Also change the dressing if it becomes wet or dirty, or as directed by your caregiver.

  • Wash the wound with soap and water 2 times a day. Rinse the wound off with water to remove all soap. Pat the wound dry with a clean towel.

  • After cleaning, apply a thin layer of the antibiotic ointment recommended by your caregiver. This will help prevent infection and keep the dressing from sticking.

  • You may shower as usual after the first 24 hours. Do not soak the wound in water until the sutures are removed.

  • Only take over-the-counter or prescription medicines for pain, discomfort, or fever as directed by your caregiver.

  • Get your sutures removed as directed by your caregiver. With facial lacerations, sutures should usually be taken out after 4 to 5 days to avoid stitch marks.

  • Wait a few days after your sutures are removed before applying makeup.

For skin adhesive strips:

  • Keep the wound clean and dry.

  • Do not get the skin adhesive strips wet. You may bathe carefully, using caution to keep the wound dry.

  • If the wound gets wet, pat it dry with a clean towel.

  • Skin adhesive strips will fall off on their own. You may trim the strips as the wound heals. Do not remove skin adhesive strips that are still stuck to the wound. They will fall off in time.

For wound adhesive:

  • You may briefly wet your wound in the shower or bath. Do not soak or scrub the wound. Do not swim. Avoid periods of heavy perspiration until the skin adhesive has fallen off on its own. After showering or bathing, gently pat the wound dry with a clean towel.

  • Do not apply liquid medicine, cream medicine, ointment medicine, or makeup to your wound while the skin adhesive is in place. This may loosen the film before your wound is healed.

  • If a dressing is placed over the wound, be careful not to apply tape directly over the skin adhesive. This may cause the adhesive to be pulled off before the wound is healed.

  • Avoid prolonged exposure to sunlight or tanning lamps while the skin adhesive is in place. Exposure to ultraviolet light in the first year will darken the scar.

  • The skin adhesive will usually remain in place for 5 to 10 days, then naturally fall off the skin. Do not pick at the adhesive film.

You may need a tetanus shot if:

  • You cannot remember when you had your last tetanus shot.

  • You have never had a tetanus shot.

If you get a tetanus shot, your arm may swell, get red, and feel warm to the touch. This is common and not a problem. If you need a tetanus shot and you choose not to have one, there is a rare chance of getting tetanus. Sickness from tetanus can be serious.


  • You develop redness, pain, or swelling around the wound.

  • There is yellowish-white fluid (pus) coming from the wound.

  • You develop chills or a fever.


  • Understand these instructions.

  • Will watch your condition.

  • Will get help right away if you are not doing well or get worse.