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COVID-19 or Influenza - How to Tell


  • Injury to the face, including cheeks, forehead, jaws and soft tissues
  • Does not include injuries to the teeth, nose and eyes which are covered in other care guides

Types of Face Injuries

  • Cut or Scratch. Small cuts heal on their own. Deep cuts and cuts on lips may need stitches or glue to heal with less scarring.
  • Bruising. Swelling and bruising can get worse for a few days after an injury. The bruising may show below the injury. Bruises go away on their own over a few weeks. Bruises may change colors as they heal. If you have bruising around both eyes, call your doctor. This can be a sign of a broken bone.
  • Fractures (serious) can happen from hard hits to any part of the face. Symptoms of a facial fracture are:
    • Pain
    • Swelling
    • Sore to touch
    • Changes to face shape
    • Vision problems
    • Numbness
    • Trouble chewing
  • Facial fractures sometimes need surgery to fix the bones. Call your doctor right away if you think you have a fracture.

Neck Pain:

  • Any head or facial injury could lead to a neck injury.
  • A broken neck can be deadly. Always call your doctor if you pass out or have a bad head or facial injury.

When To Call

Call 911 Now

  • Major bleeding that can't be stopped
  • Seizure
  • Knocked out. Person is unconscious now.
  • Hard to wake up, acting confused or slurred speech
  • Chemical injury to the face (chemicals thrown in face)
  • You think you have a life-threatening emergency

Go to ER Now

  • Knocked out (unconscious), but alert now
  • Have been drinking alcohol or using drugs
  • Puncture injury to any part of the face
  • Bruising around both eyes
  • Blood or watery fluid draining from the nose or ears
  • Can't move the lower jaw without severe pain or can't close the mouth
  • One or both cheek bones look sunken or flat
  • Large or deep cut that will need many stitches
  • Possible object(s) in the wound, such as glass fragments

Call Doctor or Seek Care Now

  • Severe face pain
  • Loss of feeling or tingling in any part of the face
  • Increasing swelling or redness in the injured area
  • Skin is cut and No past tetanus shots
  • Change in vision in either eye or can't look up
  • You think you have a serious injury
  • You think you need to be seen, and the problem is urgent

Contact Doctor Within 24 Hours

  • Bruises near the eye
  • Teeth do not feel lined up right when the mouth is closed
  • Dirty cut or hard to clean and no tetanus shot for more than 5 years
  • Clean cut and no tetanus shot for more than 10 years
  • You think you need to be seen, but the problem is not urgent

Contact Doctor During Office Hours

  • Pain is not better after 3 days
  • Pain keeps you from work or other activities
  • You have other questions or concerns

Self Care at Home

  • Minor bruise or scrape, not involving the eye, nose or ear

Care Advice

Small Cuts, Scratches or Scrapes Treatment:

  • The face has a good blood supply which means that it bruises and swells easily. It can bleed a lot if there is a wound. It also means that it often heals well.
  • For any bleeding, put direct pressure on the wound. Use a gauze pad or clean cloth. Press for 10 minutes or until the bleeding has stopped.
  • Wash the wound with soap and water for 5 minutes. Protect the eyes with a clean cloth.
  • To avoid scarring, even small wounds may need some form of wound closure, such as paper stitches or glue. This is also true of wounds that cross the edge of the lip. Ask your doctor if you are not sure what is needed.
  • For cuts or scrapes, use an antibiotic ointment (such as Polysporin). No prescription is needed. Put it on the cut 3 times a day. Do this for 3 days.
  • Cover large scrapes with a bandage. Change daily.

Swelling or Bruises with Intact Skin:

  • Cold Pack. Put a cold pack or ice wrapped in a wet cloth on to a bruised area. Do this for 20 minutes. This will help stop the bleeding and swelling. Repeat as needed. Do not put the ice directly onto the skin.
  • Bruising. A black eye often takes 1 to 2 days to show. You may see bruising lower down your face than the actual site of the injury.
  • Sleeping propped up at night will help reduce swelling and may help with pain as well.
  • Then Heat. After 48 hours, use a warm wet cloth for 10 minutes. Do this 3 times per day. Reason: to help reabsorb the blood.

Chemical Splashes on the Face (can be minor or serious):

  • Wash the skin right away with clean water.
  • Get someone to check the information on the bottle of the chemical (if available) for what to do if you get the chemical on your skin.
  • If in doubt, wash the skin for 15 to 20 minutes and seek care.
  • The Poison Control Center is a good resource for what to do and how to manage chemical splashes. Call them at 1-800-222-1222.

Pain Medicine:

  • To help with the pain, take an acetaminophen product (such as Tylenol).
  • Another choice is an ibuprofen product (such as Advil). Ibuprofen works well for this type of pain.
  • Use as needed but do not take more than the maximum recommended dosage as stated on the package.
  • If you are not sure what to take, ask a pharmacist.

What to Expect:

  • Minor cuts and scratches, as well as bruises, are harmless.
  • They usually heal within about 2 weeks.

Call Your Doctor If:

  • Pain becomes severe
  • Swelling and redness occurs around the eye
  • Changes in your vision
  • A lot of swelling happens
  • Fever occurs
  • You think you need to be seen
  • Your symptoms gets worse

Remember! Contact your doctor if you or your child develop any "Contact Your Doctor" symptoms.

Schmitt Decision Logic LLC
Disclaimer: this health information is for educational purposes only. You, the reader, assume full responsibility for how you choose to use it.
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