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They are painful and scary-looking, because they bleed so much. But cut lips in children are common and usually treatable at home.
Quinte’s cut, however, is a different story. The nine-year-old was roughhousing with a friend when his mouth ran into the friend’s head. The result: a bloody lip.
“The problem for Quinte is that the laceration went deep into the lip, and actually involved the muscular layers,” says Dr. Michael Ziegler with Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.
Quinte will need two stitches. In a way, he is lucky the cut is located where it is.
“Fortunately the lip doesn’t scar the way other skin does,” says Dr. Ziegler. “So once that has healed, you really will very unlikely see any evidence that he had a cut there.”
After a shot of anesthetic, the wound is cleaned and stitched. The irony is that what makes a cut lip look so bad is what also makes it heal well.
“One thing that allows injuries around the mouth to heal so fast is that all those structures are very vascular,” says the doctor. “They have great blood supply. As a result, they bleed a lot.”
Quinte’s mouth will hurt a little for a day or two, but otherwise he’s fine. And in a few weeks his body will absorb the stitches.
The doctor says most of the time you can tell if your child’s cut lip is superficial, and treatable with ice and sympathy.
“But if you have any question,” he says, “if you think, ‘ah, it’s deeper than I feel comfortable with’, or if [you] think it’s large enough to cause problems with the tongue or certainly deeper back in the mouth, all those lacerations should be looked at.”