Scalp Cut Closed With Staples or Stitches: Care Instructions

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Your Care Instructions

Cut closed with staples on scalp.

A scalp laceration is a cut on your head. You may be able to see the cut, or it may be covered by your hair. The cut may throb or feel tender, and you may have a headache.

The doctor used staples or stitches to close the cut. This helps the cut heal and reduces scarring.

Your doctor will tell you when to have your stitches or staples removed. This is usually in 7 to 14 days. How long you'll be told to wait depends on where the cut is located, how big and how deep the cut is, and what your general health is like.

Your scalp may itch as it heals. This is more likely if the doctor trimmed or shaved your hair in order to place the staples or stitches.

The doctor has checked you carefully, but problems can develop later. If you notice any problems or new symptoms, get medical treatment right away.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Keep the cut dry for the first 24 to 48 hours. After this, you can shower if your doctor okays it. Pat the cut dry.
  • Don't soak the cut, such as in a bathtub. Your doctor will tell you when it's safe to get the cut wet.
  • If your doctor told you how to care for your cut, follow your doctor's instructions. If you did not get instructions, follow this general advice:
    • After the first 24 to 48 hours, wash around the cut with clean water 2 times a day. Don't use hydrogen peroxide or alcohol, which can slow healing.
    • You may cover the cut with a thin layer of petroleum jelly, such as Vaseline.
    • Apply more petroleum jelly as needed.
  • Avoid any activity that could cause your cut to reopen.
  • Do not remove the staples or stitches on your own. Your doctor will tell you when to come back to have them removed.
  • Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
    • If the doctor gave you a prescription medicine for pain, take it as prescribed.
    • If you are not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask your doctor if you can take an over-the-counter medicine.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • Blood is pumping from the cut or does not stop or slow down with pressure.

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have new pain or your pain gets worse.
  • You have tingling, weakness, or numbness near the cut.
  • The cut starts to bleed a lot. Oozing small amounts of blood is normal.
  • You have symptoms of infection, such as:
    • Increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness around the cut.
    • Red streaks leading from the cut.
    • Pus draining from the cut.
    • A fever.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:

  • The cut reopens.
  • You do not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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