Minor cuts on the head often bleed heavily because the face and
scalp have many blood vessels close to the surface of the skin. Although this
amount of bleeding may be alarming, many times the injury is not severe and the
bleeding will stop with treatment you can do at home. But it is important to
know the difference between wounds you can treat at home and head wounds that
need emergency treatment.
When emergency treatment is necessary
If a cut
from a head injury is deep enough to have penetrated the skull, emergency
treatment is needed. Call 911 or other emergency services immediately. Do not apply pressure
The skull is deformed. Signs of deformity may
include sunken areas, visible bone fragments, or exposed
The injury involves the eye.
A cut is deep enough to pierce the skull.
Stopping the bleeding from a minor wound
Before you try to stop the bleeding:
Wash your hands well with soap and water
If treating another person's wound, put on latex
gloves, if you have them, before applying pressure to the wound. If gloves are
not available, use several layers of fabric or plastic bags between your hand
and the wound. Use your bare hands to apply pressure only as a last
Have the person lie down.
any visible objects from the wound. Do not attempt to clean out the
Press firmly on the wound with gauze, a clean cloth, or the
cleanest material available. If there is an object in the wound that you can't
remove, apply pressure around the object, not directly over
Apply steady pressure for a full 15 minutes. Use a clock to
time the 15 minutes. Resist the urge to peek after a few minutes to see if
bleeding has stopped. If blood soaks through the cloth, apply another one
without lifting the first.
If moderate to severe bleeding has not slowed or stopped, continue direct pressure
while getting help. Do all you can to keep the wound clean and avoid further injury to the area.
Mild bleeding usually stops on its own or slows to an ooze or trickle after 15 minutes of pressure. It may ooze or trickle for up to 45 minutes.
signs of shock, which is a life-threatening situation that requires emergency
care. Signs of shock (most of which will be present) include:
Passing out (losing consciousness).
very dizzy or lightheaded, like you may pass out.
Feeling very weak
or having trouble standing up.
Being less alert. You may suddenly
be unable to respond to questions, or you may be confused, restless, or
ByHealthwise Staff Primary Medical ReviewerWilliam H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine Specialist Medical ReviewerH. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine Martin J. Gabica, MD - Family Medicine