Minor Head Injury In Children


A minor head injury is most often caused by a blow to the head. This may occur from a fall, a sports injury, or a motor vehicle accident. Forceful shaking may also cause a minor head injury.



  • Ibuprofen and acetaminophen: These may be given to decrease your child's pain. They can be bought without a doctor's order. Ask how much medicine is safe to give your child, and how often to give it.

  • Give your child's medicine as directed: Call your child's healthcare provider if you think the medicine is not working as expected. Tell him if your child is allergic to any medicine. Keep a current list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs your child takes. Include the amounts, and when, how, and why they are taken. Bring the list or the medicines in their containers to follow-up visits. Carry your child's medicine list with you in case of an emergency. Throw away old medicine lists.

  • Do not give aspirin to children under 18 years of age. Your child could develop Reye syndrome if he takes aspirin. Reye syndrome can cause life-threatening brain and liver damage. Check your child's medicine labels for aspirin, salicylates, or oil of wintergreen.

Care for your child:

  • Rest: Have your child rest in bed or do quiet activities for the first 24 hours.

  • Ice: Ice helps decrease pain and swelling. Ice may also help prevent tissue damage. Use an ice pack or put crushed ice in a plastic bag. Cover it with a towel, and place it on your child's injury for 15 to 20 minutes every hour as directed.

  • Activity: Your child may not be able to play sports or do activities that may result in a blow to the head. Ask when your child can return to his usual activities.

  • Wake your child up during the night as directed: Ask him a few questions, such as his name or his favorite food, to see if he is alert.

  • Notify: Let your child's teachers, coaches, or daycare providers know about the injury and symptoms to watch for.

Follow up with your child's healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your child's visits.

Contact your child's primary healthcare provider if:

  • Your child is harder to wake than usual.

  • Your child's symptoms get worse during the first few days after his injury.

  • Your child will not stop crying or will not eat.

  • Your child has headaches that are severe or get worse in the days after the injury.

  • Your child's symptoms last longer than 6 weeks after the injury.

  • You have questions or concerns about your child's condition or care.

Seek care immediately or call 911 if:

  • Your child has repeated or forceful vomiting.

  • Your child has blood or clear fluid coming out of his ears or nose.

  • Your child does not know where he is, or does not recognize people who should be familiar.

  • Your child has blurry or double vision.

  • Your child's speech becomes slurred or confused.

  • Your child has a bulging soft spot on his head.

  • Your child has weakness, loss of feeling, or new problems with coordination.

  • Your child's pupils are unequal in size.

  • Your child has a seizure.

  • You cannot wake your child.

  • Your child stops responding to you or passes out.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Minor Head Injury In Children (Discharge Care)