What is minor head injury?

Minor Head Injury
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Minor head injuries, age 3 or younger: Overview

Almost all children will bump their heads, especially when they are babies or toddlers and are just learning to roll over, crawl, or walk. These accidents may upset you, but your anxiety is usually worse than the injury. Most head injuries in children are minor.

Bumps, cuts, and scrapes on the head and face most often heal well and can be treated the same as injuries to other parts of the body. A minor cut on the head often bleeds heavily. This is because the face and scalp have many blood vessels close to the surface of the skin. The blood is alarming, but often the injury is not severe and you can stop the bleeding with home treatment. When you can't stop the bleeding, visit a doctor. A young child can lose a large amount of blood from a deep cut on the head.

Some head injuries are more serious. This is called a traumatic brain injury (TBI). A TBI can range from a mild concussion to a severe head injury. Common causes of a severe head injury in this age group include falls and abuse (inflicted head injuries), such as abusive head trauma. This is also known as shaken baby syndrome.

Anyone with a head injury should be watched, especially from the causes noted above. If you think that any symptoms may be serious, see a doctor for an evaluation.

When a head injury has occurred, also look for injuries to other parts of the body. The alarm of seeing a head injury may cause you to miss other injuries that need attention. Trouble breathing, shock, spinal injuries, and severe bleeding are all life-threatening injuries that may occur along with a head injury and that need medical attention right away. Injuries to the spine, especially the neck, must be checked for when a head injury has occurred. Be sure to check for other injuries to the face, mouth, or teeth.

Many head injuries can be prevented. Use car seats, seat belts, and helmets. And make your home safe from falls. For example, never leave your baby alone in a high place, such as on a table or a bed. Establish safe habits early so your child will keep doing them when your child is older.

Here's Help: Mild Head Injury (Bump, Cut, or Scrape) in Children

Head injury in children: When to call

Call 911 anytime you think your child may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • Your child has a seizure.
  • Your child passes out (loses consciousness).
  • Your child is confused or hard to wake up.
  • Your child has a headache that gets worse and does not go away.
  • Your child has new vision changes or one pupil (the black part in the middle of the eye) that is larger than the other.
  • Your child has slurred speech, balance problems, or decreased coordination.

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your child has new or worse vomiting.
  • Your child seems less alert.
  • Your child has new weakness or numbness in any part of the body.
  • Your child has new symptoms, such as headaches, trouble concentrating, or changes in mood.

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • Your child does not get better as expected.

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The content above contains general health information provided by Healthwise, Incorporated, and reviewed by its medical experts. This content should not replace the advice of your healthcare provider. Not all treatments or services described are offered as services by us. For recommended treatments, please consult your healthcare provider.

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