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Scalp Cut Fixed With Staples: How to Care for Your Child

The health care provider checked the cut on your child's scalp and used staples to close it. Most cuts will leave a small scar. A healing cut can get infected, so the health care provider cleaned it carefully. You can help to prevent infection by taking good care of the cut as it heals.

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  • Keep the wound as dry as possible for 24 hours. You can gently wash the skin around it with a clean damp cloth.

  • After 24 hours, your child may shower or take a sponge bath, then gently pat the wound dry.

  • Don't soak the skin. Your child should not take a bath or go swimming until the staples are removed.

  • You can give medicine for pain if your health care provider says it's OK. Use these medicines exactly as directed:

    • acetaminophen (such as Tylenol® or a store brand)OR

    • ibuprofen (such as Advil®, Motrin®, or a store brand). Don't give to babies under 6 months old.

  • Some mild redness around the wound is normal. Check every day to make sure the red area doesn't get bigger.

  • Go to the health care provider as directed to have the staples removed. Leaving the staples in place too long may cause more scarring.

  • Make sure your child's tetanus vaccine is up to date.

  • When you or your child apply sunscreen, be sure to put it on the scar. This will help protect the scar from burning and prevent it from getting darker.

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  • Your child has redness, warmth, or swelling around the wound. This could be the start of an infection.

  • Pus is draining from the wound.

  • The edges of the wound start to separate.

  • Your child develops pain or a fever.

  • The staples have started to come out or the wound is opening up.

  • Your child develops any of these changes:

    • becoming very sleepy

    • trouble walking straight

    • vomits

    • cries and won't stop

    • seems to be dizzy

    • becomes agitated or confused

    • complains of head or neck pain and stiffness

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  • The wound starts bleeding and doesn't stop, even after light pressure is applied.

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Why are staples used to close a cut on the scalp? Staples can be placed more quickly than stitches and are easier to remove. (Staples used on the body are different from regular staples used on paper.)

What do health care providers do when a child has a scalp cut? Health care providers ask for details about how the cut happened and do a careful exam. Because there was a blow to the head, they also check for any signs of internal problems, such as a concussion or other injury. The health care team might observe the child for a little while to watch for possible changes. Parents might be asked to continue checking their child at home.

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