Scalp Bruise with Sleep Monitoring

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. Symptoms can include changes in skin color . For instance, the skin may turn blue or black. Swelling and pain may also occur.

Because the injury was to your head, it could have caused a mild brain injury (concussion). You don’t have symptoms of a concussion at this time. But these can show up later. For the next 24 hours (or possibly longer), you and someone caring for you will need to watch for the symptoms listed below (see the Sleep Monitoring section).

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

Home care

Sleep monitoring

Someone must stay with you for the next 24 hours, or longer, if directed. If you fall asleep, this person should wake you up every 2 hours to check for symptoms of concussion. These include:

  • Headache

  • Nausea or vomiting

  • Dizziness

  • Sensitivity to light or noise

  • Unusual sleepiness or grogginess

  • Trouble falling asleep

  • Personality changes

  • Vision changes

  • Confusion

  • Memory loss

  • Trouble walking or clumsiness

  • Loss of consciousness (even for a short time)

  • Inability to be awakened

If any of these symptoms develop at any time, get emergency medical care right away. If no concussion symptoms are noted during the first 24 hours, keep watching for symptoms for the next day or so. Ask your provider if someone should stay with you during this time.

General care

  • If you have been prescribed medicines for pain, take them as directed. Don’t take other medicines without talking with your provider first.

  • Don't take NSAIDs such as aspirin or ibuprofen. Don't take blood-thinner (anticoagulant) medicines such as warfarin, unless your doctor tells you to.

  • To help reduce swelling and pain, apply a cold pack to the injured area for up to 20 minutes at a time, every 1 to 2 hours, or as directed. Use a cold pack or bag of ice wrapped in a thin towel. Never apply a cold pack or ice directly to the skin.

  • For the next 24 hours or longer, if instructed:

    • Don’t drink alcohol or use sedatives or other 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.

Follow-up care

Follow up with your healthcare provider, or as directed. If imaging tests were done, they will be looked at by a doctor. You will be told of 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 worsens or 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, bleeding, 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 right away if any of these occur:

  • Stiff neck

  • Weakness or numbness in any part of the body

  • Seizures

© 2000-2021 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
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