first aid

Child care: First aid care for a head injury

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When a head injury in a child is suspected, it is vital to monitor the child for any issues that might arise after the injury. Treatment at home can help alleviate the swelling and ensuing bruising of the skin or scalp as well as the pain.

What should I do?

  • If the child was involved in an accident, stay calm and speak to the child in a relaxed, calm voice. This reduces the level of fear of the child and allow you to assess the situation.
  • Control any bleeding by applying firm pressure over the wound using bandage or clean cloth for about 15 minutes. In case the cut is deep and might penetrated the skull, emergency treatment is required.
  • Assess for other injuries in other parts of the body especially if the child has fallen.
    Head injury
    Control any bleeding by applying firm pressure over the wound using bandage or clean cloth for about 15 minutes.
  • Apply an ice pack to minimize the swelling. In most cases, there is a “goose egg” lump that will appear but the ice pack can ease the pain. Make sure that a cloth or towel is placed between the pack and the skin. Do apply longer than 15-20 minutes at a time or allow the child to fall asleep with the pack on.

When to consult a doctor?

It is vital to ensure that the instructions given by the doctor are carefully followed. The doctor will inform you regarding any issues to watch out for and how closely to monitor the child during the next 24 hours or longer.

Do not provide any medications including over-the-counter acetaminophen to a child with a possible serious head injury unless instructed by the doctor.

What are the symptoms to watch out for during home treatment?

A doctor should be consulted if any of the following occur at home:

  • New episode of headache or a current headache worsens.
  • New episode of nausea or vomiting or it worsens
  • Weakness, tingling or numbness develops in any part of the body
  • Swelling or bleeding increases
  • Difficulty walking
  • Confusion or not acting normally
  • Symptoms become severe or frequent

Quick Note / Disclaimer

The material posted on this page on head injury is for learning and educational purposes only. To learn to recognize and manage head injuries, register for a first aid and CPR course with Victoria First Aid.

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