Treating a minor head injury 

You can usually recover from a minor head injury at home – but keep an eye out for any new symptoms that might develop.

If your child experiences a knock, bump or blow to the head, sit them down, comfort them, and make sure they rest. You can hold a cold compress to their head – try a bag of ice or frozen peas wrapped in a tea towel.

Seek immediate medical advice if symptoms such as mild dizziness and a headache get worse.

Read more about when you need to seek urgent medical attention.

Advice for adults

If you have a minor head injury:

  • ask someone to stay with you and keep within easy reach of a telephone and medical help for the first 48 hours after the injury
  • have plenty of rest and avoid stressful situations
  • don't drink alcohol or take recreational drugs
  • don't take sleeping pills, sedatives or tranquillisers (unless they're prescribed by your doctor)
  • take paracetamol if you have a mild headache, but avoid non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen and aspirin, unless advised or prescribed by a doctor
  • don't play contact sport, such as football or rugby, for at least three weeks without talking to your doctor
  • don't return to work, college or school until you've completely recovered and feel ready
  • don't drive a car, motorbike or bicycle or operate machinery until you've completely recovered

When to seek medical attention

Go to your nearest accident and emergency (A&E) department if you develop any of the symptoms listed above.

See your GP for advice if you still have symptoms two weeks after the head injury or you're unsure about driving or returning to work.

Advice for children

If your child has a minor head injury:

  • give them paracetamol if they have a mild headache, but avoid NSAIDs such as ibuprofen and aspirin (aspirin should never be given to children under the age of 16)
  • avoid getting them too excited
  • don't have too many visitors
  • don't let them play contact sports, such as football or rugby, for at least three weeks without talking to your doctor
  • make sure they avoid rough play for a few days

When to seek medical attention

Take your child to A&E if their symptoms worsen or they develop any new symptoms.

See your GP for advice if your child still has symptoms two weeks after the head injury, or you're unsure about them returning to school or sport.

Page last reviewed: 25/09/2015

Next review due: 31/03/2018