Scalp lacerations are uncommon when helmets are worn properly. Cuts may occur when an
overlying branch penetrates a vent hole in the helmet, or when a the biker's head hits
sharp rock just below the helmet.
Most scalp lacerations are caused by a blunt hit. The scalp "bursts" when it's
pinched between the skull and another object. If the cut is gaping, it usually
with stitches. A small scalp cut can be managed at home.
Scalp cuts usually heal well. Be sure there's no wood or gravel in the wound. If you're
concerned about skull fracture or concussion, see the doctor. Signs of serious head injury
include: loss of consciousness, confusion, repeating questions, vomiting, severe headache,
See the doctor if:
the wound is gaping open
bleeding does not stop
significant head injury occurred:
loss of consciousness
Hold pressure on the cut until bleeding stops. Scalp lacerations can bleed profusely. Put
direct pressure on the laceration (ideally with sterile dressing material, but your bike
shirt will do). If continued pressure is needed, tie the cloth into place with a sling
(triangular bandage). You may be able to maintain pressure by cinching your bike helmet
snugly over a cloth compress.
Carefully assess whether stitches are needed. If you decide to treat at home, make sure
the wound is free of dirt and debris. Clean with Betadine, then dry the wound and
surrounding hair. Grasp small locks of hair from each side of the cut. Pull them together,
crisscrossing over the wound. Either tie or glue the hair locks together.
|This is a small scalp cut. We've pulled a small lock of hair from each
side across the cut. The bleeding has stopped, and the skin edges match perfectly. Now if
we can just keep the cut closed...
Scalp cut resulting from a
broken branch penetrating through a ventilation hole in the biker's helmet.
||We blot the area dry then wait a minute (use a blow dryer if necessary)
until the hair is dry. While holding the hair in position, we put a drop of superglue so
it bonds the two locks of hair together.
The bonded hair forms a "stitch" across the cut. The area must be protected from
brushes and combs. After a few days, the glue will break up.
Keep the comb and brush away from the area for a few days. Avoid contact sports.
Watch for signs of infection, such as swelling, redness, increasing pain, fever, or
drainage. See section on infection. Observe 24 hours
for symptoms of serious
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