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A to Z: Head Injury

Also called: Head Trauma

A head injury is any physical harm to the scalp, skull, or brain.

More to Know

Head injuries are very common and usually not serious. They can be external or internal:

  • External head injuries are injuries to the scalp. These injuries often look serious because the scalp has many blood vessels that can bleed, sometimes causing a big lump (or "goose egg") that can take days or weeks to disappear. Applying an ice pack or instant cold pack (wrapped in a washcloth or towel) to the injured area for up to 20 minutes every 3-4 hours for the first 1-2 days can help ease swelling.
  • Internal head injuries may involve the skull, blood vessels inside the skull, or the brain itself.
    • A concussion is a type of internal head injury. In a concussion, a person temporarily loses brain function. Someone may have a concussion even when there's no obvious wound or unconsciousness. After a concussion, the brain needs time to heal. Recovery time will depend on how long the symptoms last. It's very important to wait until all symptoms have ended before resuming normal activities.

Keep in Mind

Safety precautions can prevent head injuries. Kids and adults should wear helmets, safety gear, and seatbelts whenever appropriate.

All A to Z dictionary entries are regularly reviewed by KidsHealth medical experts.

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