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Safety and Injuries > Head Injuries

Head Injuries

Many toddlers and children fall and hit their head many times during their lives. Most head injuries are minor and symptoms resolve within a couple hours. More serious symptoms might show up in the first 24 hours after an injury, so watch your child closely during that time.

External head injuries(outside the skull)

These include goose eggs (cephalohematomas), lacerations and other mild bumps. There is no loss of consciousness, change in behavior, or other symptoms. Goose eggs are collections of blood that form rapidly after a hit to the head. An ice pack (or frozen peas) might help swelling. They might take days to weeks to resolve, but are not serious, since all the swelling is outside of the skull. Lacerations (cuts) of the scalp tend to bleed a lot since the scalp has so many blood vessels. Firm pressure and ice can help stop the bleeding. If the skin gapes open or if you are unable to stop the bleeding, stitches or staples might be required. Our office or an emergency room would be able to help assess the need for stitches or staples.

Internal head injuries

These happen when there is significant force to cause bleeding in the head or a crush of the skull. If there are signs of serious head injury (see list below) your child should be seen in an emergency room. Do not remove any object that is stuck in the wound. Do not move a child you suspect may have a serious head or neck injury; call 911.

Signs that your child should be seen immediately:

  • Extreme pain, won’t stop crying
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Excessive sleepiness for time of day
  • Irritability
  • Funny breathing or not breathing
  • Vomiting more than once
  • Unequal pupils
  • Unable to walk or “not acting like self”
  • Seizure or twitching
  • Confusion or dizziness
  • Weakness
  • Vision changes/ unable to focus
  • Neck or back pain
  • Increasing pain
  • Bleeding or clear fluid from the nose or ears (possible spinal fluid leak)
  • Obvious fracture or severe wounds
  • Symptoms that worry the parent

For more information from the CDC, click here.

Prevention of head injuries is important

Remember to use proper car seats and boosters for your young child, and seat belts for older children, teens, and adults. Do not drive under the influence of alcohol. Drive safely in inclement weather and other poor road conditions. Be sure your child wears proper gear for sports, including helmets and mouth guards. Proper bicycle and skate helmet positioning can be seen at this link. Also visit HeadstrongForJake to learn of local bike helmet rodeos and other events.

This helmet saved Tom's life. See also our Concussion page.


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