Head Injury (Child)

Your child has a head injury. It doesn't appear serious at this time. But symptoms of a more serious problem, such as mild brain injury (concussion), or bruising or bleeding in the brain, may appear later. For this reason, you will need to closely watch your child for any of the symptoms listed below. Once at home, also be sure to follow any care instructions you’re given for your child.

Home care

Watch for the following symptoms

For the next 24 hours (or longer, if directed), you or another adult must stay with your child. Seek emergency medical care if your child has any of these symptoms 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

  • Stiff neck

  • Weakness or numbness in any part of the body

  • Seizures

For young children, also watch for crying that can’t be soothed, refusal to feed, or any signs of changes to the head such as bruising, bulging, or a soft or pushed-in spot.

General care

  • If your child was prescribed medicines for pain, be sure to given them to your child as directed. Note: Don’t give your child other pain medicines without checking with the provider first.

  • To help reduce swelling and pain, apply a cold source 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 apply a cold source directly to the skin.

  • If your child has cuts or scrapes on the face or scalp, care for them as directed.

  • For the next 24 hours (or longer, if advised), your child should follow these guidelines:

    • Don't lift or do other strenuous activities.

    • Don't play sports or any other activities that could result in another head injury.

    • Limit TV, smartphones, video games, computers, and music or avoid them completely. These activities may make symptoms worse.

Follow-up care

Follow up with your child’s 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 child’s care.

When to seek medical advice

Call the provider right away if your child has any of the following:

  • Pain that doesn’t get better or worsens

  • New or increased swelling or bruising

  • Increased redness, warmth, drainage, or bleeding from the injured area

  • Fluid drainage or bleeding from the nose or ears

  • Sick appearance or behaviors that worry you

  • Lethargy or excessive sleepiness

  • Bruising around the eyes or behind the ears

  • Double vision

  • Repeated episodes of vomiting

  • Trouble walking or talking

© 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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