Minor head injuries are common in people of all ages and rarely result in any permanent brain damage.

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.

The symptoms of a minor head injury are usually mild and shortlived. They may include:

  • a mild headache
  • nausea (feeling sick)
  • mild dizziness
  • mild blurred vision

If your child's symptoms get significantly worse, take them straight to the accident and emergency (A&E) department of your nearest hospital or call 999 for an ambulance.

What to look out for

Signs of a brain injury after a head injury include:

  • unconsciousness – either brief (concussion) or for a longer period of time
  • fits or seizures
  • problems with the senses – such as hearing loss or double vision
  • repeated vomiting
  • blood or clear fluid coming from the ears or nose
  • memory loss (amnesia)

If any of these symptoms occur after a head injury, immediately go to your nearest A&E department or call 999 and ask for an ambulance.

How common are head injuries?

Each year around 700,000 people attend A&E departments with a head injury in England and Wales. Of these, more than 80% only have a minor injury.

The most common causes of head injuries are falls, assaults, and road traffic collisions.

Children are more likely to sustain a minor head injury because they're very active.

Treating a minor head injury

Most people who attend hospital with a minor head injury are allowed to return home shortly afterwards and will make a full recovery within a few days.

After attending hospital with a minor head injury, you'll usually be discharged fairly soon and be able to recover at home. Most people will make a full recovery in a few days.

For the first 24 hours after the injury, it's important for someone to stay with the injured person to keep an eye out for any new symptoms that develop.

It's also important to rest, avoid aggravating the injury with stressful situations, and avoid contact sports until fully recovered.

Mild headaches can be treated with paracetamol, but always read the manufacturer's instructions to ensure the correct dosage is taken. Don't give aspirin to children under the age of 16.

Read more about how to treat a minor head injury.

Preventing head injuries

It can be difficult to predict or avoid a head injury, but there are some steps you can take to help reduce the risk of more serious injury. These include:

  • wearing a safety helmet when cycling
  • reducing hazards in the home that may cause a fall
  • childproofing your home
  • using the correct safety equipment for work, sport and DIY

Read more about how to prevent a minor head injury.

Page last reviewed: 25/09/2015

Next review due: 25/09/2017