Bump on the head: When is it a serious head injury?
Medically reviewed on June 13, 2017.
Probably not. Head trauma from play or sports is a common concern for parents, but rarely does a bump on the head result in serious injury.
The forehead and scalp have an abundant blood supply, and injury to these areas often results in bleeding under the skin. When the bleeding is in just one area, it causes bruising and swelling (hematoma).
Keep in mind that even a minor head bump can cause a large swelling. And the speed, momentum and size of the people (full-grown adolescents versus young children) and the forces involved (such as impact with a concrete floor or other hard surface) may increase the possibility of serious injury.
When to see a doctor
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that you call your child's doctor for anything more than a light bump on your child's head.
If your child doesn't have signs of a serious head injury and remains alert, moves normally and responds to you, the injury is probably mild and usually doesn't need further testing.
Occasionally, a blow to the head may be severe enough to cause bleeding in or around the brain. This type of bleeding can cause an intracranial hematoma, a serious condition that puts pressure on the brain.
See a doctor within one to two days of a significant head injury with ongoing symptoms, even if emergency care isn't required.
Seek emergency medical attention if your child experiences:
- Unconsciousness, confusion or disorientation after a head injury
Also seek emergency attention if your child exhibits the following signs or symptoms after a head injury, which could signal a concussion:
- Persistent or worsening headache
- Memory loss or confusion
- Mood changes, such as irritability