Summer is 'Trauma Season': What to do When Your Child Gets Hit in the Face

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No one’s as excited about summer as your children. The school books get put away and the bats, balls and gloves come out. Whether your kids are active in sports—or just active in general (what kids aren’t?)—it’s important to be prepared for the unexpected, especially since this is known as “trauma season,” and the likelyhood increases of one of yours experiencing anything from a fall to a head butt that can damage the nose and other facial bone structures.

Case in point, last summer an 11-year-old boy and another child knocked heads together in a bouncy house in Warwick, NY. The day after it happened, he arrived for treatment at Jersey Shore University Medical Center. This child had originally been diagnosed with a simple concussion, but when I saw his CT scan, it was obvious that the bone around the boy’s eye had broken and muscle had become trapped. Left unrepaired, the muscle, which was causing the boy’s eyes to cross, could have lost blood supply, died and left him with permanent vision and/or functional eye damage. Action taken by his concerned parents, however, prevented any negative outcome. Within three weeks after surgery, my patient was medically cleared to get back in the game with tennis, soccer, basketball and swimming.

Should you be overly worried about the “what-ifs” this summer? No, but it’s always a good idea to know what to do if something should happen to your child or one of their friends. Whether it’s routine play or sports, kids frequently get wounds and minor cuts to the face. Many of these may only need a little first aid treatment, which can be handled at home.

Here’s when you should be concerned and seek out medical treatment:
  • If the injury involves the eyes or eyelids
  • If a ball makes contact with the nose
  • If there is excess pain or the possibility of a fractured or broken facial bone or scull injury
  • In the case of a deep or long (1/2 inch or longer) wound
  • In the case of a puncture wound or wound made with a dirty or rusty object
  • If bleeding is heavy and does not stop after 5 minutes of direct pressure
  • If a wound shows signs of infection (redness, swelling, drainage)
If you find yourself with a child who’s been hit, bumped or otherwise, my best advice is this: Be sure he or she is seen by facial reconstructive surgeon as soon as possible for a treatment evaluation. When it comes to facial injuries, the sooner you receive an accurate diagnosis and treatment options, the more likely you are to have the least downtime and best possible results.

Dr. M

Article by
Shrewsbury Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeon