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Head Injury, Age 3 and Younger (cont.)

Check Your Symptoms

Home Treatment

First aid for a head injury

Parents should watch their child for any problems after the injury. Home treatment can help relieve swelling and bruising of the skin or scalp and pain that occurs with a minor head injury.

  • If your child had an accident, try to remain calm and speak to your child in a calm, relaxed voice. This will help reduce your child's fear and allow you to assess the situation.
  • To stop any bleeding, apply firm pressure directly over the cut with a clean cloth or bandage for 15 minutes. If the cut is deep and may have penetrated the skull, emergency treatment is needed.
  • Check for injuries to other parts of the body, especially if the child has fallen. The alarm from seeing a head injury may cause you to overlook other injuries that need attention.
  • Apply ice or cold packs to reduce the swelling if your child will let you hold a cold pack on the injury. A "goose egg" lump may appear anyway, but ice will help ease the pain. Always keep a cloth between your child's skin and the ice pack. Do not apply ice for longer than 15 to 20 minutes at a time, and do not let your child fall asleep with the ice on his or her skin.

If your child is seen by a doctor

Be sure to follow the instructions given to you by your child's doctor. He or she will tell you what problems to look for and how closely to watch your child for the next 24 hours or longer.

Do not give any medicine, including nonprescription acetaminophen, such as Tylenol, to a child you are watching for signs of a more serious head injury unless your doctor tells you to.

Symptoms to watch for during home treatment

Call your child's doctor if any of the following occur during home treatment:

  • New headache develops or headache becomes worse.
  • New nausea or vomiting develops or nausea or vomiting becomes worse.
  • Tingling, weakness, or numbness develops in any part of the body.
  • Trouble walking develops.
  • Confusion or not acting normally develops.
  • Bleeding or swelling increases.
  • Symptoms become more severe or more frequent.
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