Do you suture a lip laceration?

Lip lacerations may need sutures because they tend to scar.
Lip lacerations may need sutures because they tend to scar.

Children often end up getting minor cuts on their lips in the form of wounds or lacerations while playing, especially when they fall on the ground. Since the face has a lot of blood supply, any cut causes the lips to bleed more and for a longer time compared to cuts on other areas unless measures are taken to stop the bleeding.

The problem with lip lacerations is that even if they are small, they are easily visible and tend to form scars. These wounds may need suturing to keep the borders even and reduce the development of scars. Cuts inside the lips usually do not require stitches as they heal at the normal speed.

What are the self-care tips for lip lacerations?

Most lip lacerations can be treated at home. Here are a few self-care tips that you can follow immediately

  • Calm your child and reassure them that the pain will go away.
  • Apply pressure with a cloth for a few minutes (to stop the bleeding).
  • Wash the laceration with soap and water and hold it under running water to remove the dirt.
  • If the wound is inside the lip, rinse the area well with cool water for several minutes.
  • Do not rub or scrub the laceration.
  • Do not blow on the wound.
  • Apply an antiseptic cream, such as Povidone-iodine on the laceration.
  • Give your child an ice cube or ice pops to suck on to reduce the pain and inflammation.

Other things to do include

  • Keep the lacerated lip dry and clean.
  • Keep checking for changes in the laceration.
  • Apply a sunscreen or a sun-protectant lip balm on the healed laceration.
  • Hold a cold pack to the swollen lips every 1 to 2 hours for 10 to 15 minutes for the first 24 hours.

When do you need medical attention for lip laceration?

Given the risk of scar formation, it is very important to seek medical counsel for any facial injury.

You need to visit the doctor immediately if the laceration

  • Continues to bleed even after applying 5 to 10 minutes of pressure
  • Is longer than a half an inch
  • Is contaminated with dirt, stones or gravel
  • Is caused by a rusty object
  • Has an irregular (ragged) edge
  • Is caused by bites (animal or human)
  • Hurts extremely
  • Shows signs of infection, such as redness, swelling or fluid discharge
  • Is from the inside of the mouth through to the outside
  • Is through the border or outline of the lip

Get your child a tetanus shot from the doctor if it has not been given to them within the last 5 years.

Lip wounds are more likely to become infected than other wounds due to the saliva and contamination from dental bacterial plaque. Hence, your doctor may initiate antibiotics to prevent or deal with the infections.

Lacerations on the lips may leave a scar even with prompt medical treatment and hence, may need revision by a plastic surgeon in the future.

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Medically Reviewed on 10/16/2020
References
Medscape Medical Reference

Stanford Children's Health


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