Scalp Bruise

A bruise (contusion) happens when small blood vessels break open and leak blood into the nearby area. A bruise on the scalp can result from a bump, hit, or fall. Newborns may have a bruised scalp from the birthing process. Symptoms can include changes in skin color. For instance, the skin may turn blue or black. Swelling and pain may also occur.

The swelling should go down in a few days. Bruising and pain may take longer to go away.

Home care

General care

  • You may use acetaminophen to control pain, unless another pain medicine was prescribed. Don’t take aspirin or NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) or blood-thinners (anticoagulants) such as warfarin without talking with your provider first. These can increase the risk of bleeding.

  • To help reduce swelling and pain, apply a cold pack to the injured area for up to 20 minutes at a time. Do this as often as directed. Use a cold pack or bag of ice wrapped in a thin towel. Never put a cold pack or ice directly on your skin.

  • If you have cuts or scrapes around the site of the bruise, care for them as directed.

Note about concussion

Because the injury was to your head, it is possible that you could have a mild brain injury (concussion). Symptoms of a concussion can show up later. For this reason, be alert for symptoms of concussion once you’re home. Seek emergency medical care if you have any of the symptoms below over the next hours to days:

  • Headache

  • Nausea or vomiting

  • Dizziness

  • Sensitivity to light or noise

  • Unusual sleepiness or grogginess

  • Trouble falling asleep

  • Personality changes

  • Vision changes

  • Memory loss

  • Confusion

  • Trouble walking or clumsiness

  • Loss of consciousness (even for a short time)

  • Inability to be awakened

During the time period that you’re watching for concussion symptoms:

  • Don’t drink alcohol or use sedatives or medicines that make you sleepy.

  • Don’t drive or operate machinery.

  • Don’t do anything strenuous, such as heavy lifting or straining.

  • Limit tasks that need concentration. This includes reading, watching TV, using a smartphone or computer, and playing video games.

  • Don’t return to sports, exercise, or other activity that could result in another injury.

Ask your healthcare provider when you can safely resume these activities.

Follow-up care

Follow up with your healthcare provider, or as directed. If imaging tests were done, they will be reviewed by a doctor. You will be told the results and any new findings that may affect your care.

When to seek medical advice

Call your healthcare provider right away if any of these occur:

  • Pain that worsens or that can’t be relieved with medicines

  • New or increased swelling or bruising

  • Fever of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher, or as directed by your healthcare provider

  • Redness, warmth, or drainage from the injured area

  • Any depression or bony abnormality in the injured area

  • Fluid drainage or bleeding from the nose or ears

Call 911

Call 911 if any of these occur:

  • Stiff neck

  • Weakness or numbness in any part of the body

  • Seizures

  • Trouble staying awake or confusion

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