First Time User? Enroll now.
COVID-19: Vaccine information and additional resources | Medicaid: The program is changing and you must take steps to keep your UNC Health providers
Home > Health Library > Facial Injuries
At one time or another, everyone has had a minor facial injury that caused pain, swelling, or bruising. Home treatment is usually all that is needed for mild bumps or bruises.
Facial injuries most commonly occur during:
In children, most facial injuries occur during sports or play or are caused by falls. Minor facial injuries in young children tend to be less severe than similar facial injuries that occur in older children or adults. Young children are less likely to break a facial bone because they have fat pads that cushion their faces and their bones are more flexible. But young children are more likely to be bitten in the face by an animal.
Head injuries may occur at the same time as a facial injury, so be sure to check for symptoms of a head injury. For more information, see the topic Head Injuries, Age 3 and Younger or Head Injuries, Age 4 and Older.
Facial injuries may be caused by a direct blow, penetrating injury, or fall. Pain may be sudden and severe. Bruising and swelling may develop soon after the injury. Acute injuries include:
Treatment for a facial injury may include first aid measures, medicine, and in some cases surgery. Treatment depends on:
When you have had a facial injury, it is important to look for signs of other injuries, such as a spinal injury, eye injury, or an injury to the mouth, such as a cut lip or injured tooth.
Check your symptoms to decide if and when you should see a doctor.
Many things can affect how your body responds to a symptom and what kind of care you may need. These include:
You have answered all the questions. Based on your answers, you may be able to take care of this problem at home.
Shock is a life-threatening condition that may quickly occur after a sudden illness or injury.
Adults and older children often have several symptoms of shock. These include:
Shock is a life-threatening condition that may occur quickly after a sudden illness or injury.
Babies and young children often have several symptoms of shock. These include:
Pain in adults and older children
Pain in children under 3 years
It can be hard to tell how much pain a baby or toddler is in.
You may need a tetanus shot depending on how dirty the wound is and how long it has been since your last shot.
Symptoms of infection may include:
Symptoms of a spinal cord injury in an adult or older child may include:
With severe bleeding, any of these may be true:
With moderate bleeding, any of these may be true:
With mild bleeding, any of these may be true:
Some types of facial wounds are more likely to leave a scar than others. These include:
Stitches or other treatment may help prevent scarring. It's best to get treated within 8 hours of the injury.
Symptoms of a skull fracture may include:
Symptoms of difficulty breathing can range from mild to severe. For example:
Severe trouble breathing means:
Moderate trouble breathing means:
Mild trouble breathing means:
Certain health conditions and medicines weaken the immune system's ability to fight off infection and illness. Some examples in adults are:
Based on your answers, you may need care right away. The problem is likely to get worse without medical care.
Based on your answers, you need emergency care.
Call 911 or other emergency services now.
Sometimes people don't want to call 911. They may think that their symptoms aren't serious or that they can just get someone else to drive them. Or they might be concerned about the cost. But based on your answers, the safest and quickest way for you to get the care you need is to call 911 for medical transport to the hospital.
Based on your answers, you may need care soon. The problem probably will not get better without medical care.
Do not move the person unless there is an immediate threat to the person's life, such as a fire. If you have to move the person, keep the head and neck supported and in a straight line at all times. If the person has had a diving accident and is still in the water, float the person face up in the water.
Put direct, steady pressure on the wound until help arrives. Keep the area raised if you can.
Based on your answers, the problem may not improve without medical care.
Home treatment may help treat problems and prevent complications after an injury to your face.
Facial injuries can bleed a lot even if they are minor injuries. Stop any bleeding from the nose, mouth, or face so you can see what the injury is. Crying increases blood flow to the face and can make a nosebleed or facial bleeding worse. If your injured child is crying, speak in a quiet, relaxed manner to soothe him or her.
Do not smoke. Smoking slows healing because it decreases blood supply and delays tissue repair. For more information, see the topic Quitting Smoking.
Try a nonprescription medicine to help treat your fever or pain:
Talk to your child's doctor before switching back and forth between doses of acetaminophen and ibuprofen. When you switch between two medicines, there is a chance your child will get too much medicine.
Be sure to follow these safety tips when you use a nonprescription medicine:
Call your doctor if any of the following symptoms occur during home treatment:
There are many steps you can take to help prevent a facial injury.
You can take steps to help reduce your young child's risk of facial injury.
To prepare for your appointment, see the topicMaking the Most of Your Appointment.
You can help your doctor diagnose and treat your condition by being prepared to answer the following questions:
Current as of:
July 1, 2021
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: William H. Blahd Jr. MD, FACEP - Emergency MedicineAdam Husney MD - Family MedicineKathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Current as of: July 1, 2021
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:William H. Blahd Jr. MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine & Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2021 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.