At one time or another, everyone has had a minor facial injury that
caused pain, swelling, or bruising. Home treatment is
usually all that is needed for mild bumps or bruises.
It may be
helpful to be familiar with the makeup of the facial bones to better understand
facial injuries. See a picture of the
Causes of facial injuries
Facial injuries most
commonly occur during:
Sports or recreational activities, such as ice
hockey, basketball, rugby, soccer, or martial arts.
tasks or projects around the home.
Motor vehicle crashes.
In children, most facial injuries occur during sports or
play or are caused by accidental falls. Minor facial injuries in young children
tend to be less severe than similar facial injuries that occur in older
children or adults. Young children are less likely to break a facial bone
because they have fat pads that cushion their faces and their bones are more
flexible. But young children are more likely to be bitten in the face by
Facial injuries may be caused by a
direct blow, penetrating injury, or fall. Pain may be sudden and severe.
Bruising and swelling may develop soon after the injury. Acute injuries
cut or puncture to your face or inside your mouth. This often occurs with
even a minor injury. But a cut or puncture is likely to occur when a jaw
or facial bone is broken. The bone may come through the skin or poke into the
A dislocated jaw, which may occur when the lower
jawbone (mandible) is pulled apart from one or both of the joints connecting it
to the base of the skull at the temporomandibular (TM) joints. This can cause
problems even if the jaw pops back into place.
Treatment for a facial injury may include
first aid measures, medicine, and in some cases surgery. Treatment depends
The location, type, and severity of the
How long ago the injury occurred.
health condition, and other activities, such as work, sports, or hobbies.
When you have had a facial injury, it is important to
look for signs of other injuries, such as a
eye injury, or an injury to the mouth, such as a cut
lip or injured tooth.
Use ice. Cold will reduce pain and swelling.
ice or cold pack immediately to prevent or minimize swelling. Apply the ice
or cold pack for 10 to 20 minutes, 3 or more times a day. After 48 to 72 hours,
if swelling is gone, apply
warmth to the area that hurts.
head elevated, even while you sleep. This will help reduce
For the first 48 hours, avoid things that might increase
swelling, such as hot showers, hot tubs or hot packs, or drinking alcohol or
Do not take aspirin or other nonsteroidal
anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for the first 24 hours. Aspirin prolongs the
clotting time of blood and may cause more nose or facial
Eat soft foods and cold foods and fluids to reduce jaw
and mouth pain. Avoid hot foods or beverages, which may increase swelling
around the mouth.
Do not smoke. Smoking slows healing because it decreases
blood supply and delays tissue repair. For more information, see the topic
Medicine you can buy without a prescription
Try a nonprescription
medicine to help treat your fever or pain:
Aspirin (also a nonsteroidal
anti-inflammatory drug), such as Bayer or Bufferin
Talk to your child's doctor before switching back and
forth between doses of acetaminophen and ibuprofen. When you switch between two
medicines, there is a chance your child will get too much medicine.
Be sure to follow these
safety tips when you use a nonprescription medicine:
Carefully read and follow all directions
on the medicine bottle and box.
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.