First Aid: Head Injuries
Most childhood head injuries are minor and hurt only the outside of the head. On rare occasions, a severe head injury can cause bruising or bleeding in the brain. This type of head injury requires immediate medical attention.
Signs and Symptoms
Of a mild head injury:
Of a potentially serious head injury:
- unconsciousness or unresponsiveness
- obvious serious wound
- blood or clear fluid from the nose or ear
- changes in behavior, such as sluggishness, agitation, confusion, or excessive sleepiness
- dizziness or stumbling
- vomiting more than two or three times or vomiting hours after the injury
- severe or worsening headache
What to Do
- Call 911 for any serious head injury. Do not move an unconscious child. If your child is not breathing, perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), if you've been trained.
- Call the doctor right away if an infant has a head injury or a child of any age has neck pain or won't stop crying after a head injury.
- Allow your child to sleep if he or she is tired.
- Childproof your house.
- Don't use infant walkers.
- Make sure kids wear protective gear for contact sports, biking, skating, and skateboarding.
Reviewed by: Steven Dowshen, MD
Date reviewed: April 2014
© 1995-2014 The Nemours Foundation/KidsHealth. All rights reserved.