Laceration - Scalp
- Injuries to the head
- Includes the scalp, skull and brain
Types of Head Injuries.
- Scalp Injury. Most head injuries only damage the scalp. Examples are a cut, scrape, bruise or swelling. It is common for children to fall and hit their head while growing up. This is especially common when a child is learning to walk. Big lumps (bruises) can occur with minor injuries. This is because there is a large blood supply to the scalp. For the same reason, small cuts on the head may bleed a lot. Bruises on the forehead sometimes cause black eyes 1 to 3 days later. This is caused by blood spreading downward by gravity.
- Skull Fracture. Only 1% to 2% of children with head injuries will get a skull fracture. Most often, there are no other symptoms except for a headache. The headache occurs at the site where the head was hit. Most skull fractures occur without any injury to the brain. They heal easily.
- Concussion. A mild brain injury that changes how the brain normally works. It is usually caused by a sudden blow or jolt to the head. Many children bump or hit their heads without causing a concussion. The most common signs are a brief period of confusion or memory loss. This happens after the injury. Other signs of a concussion can include a headache or vomiting. Dizziness, acting dazed, or being knocked out can also be signs. A person does NOT need to be knocked out to have had a concussion. Following a concussion, some children have ongoing symptoms. These can include mild headaches, dizziness or thinking difficulties. School problems or emotional changes can occur. These symptoms can last for several weeks.
- Brain Injuries are uncommon. They are recognized by the symptoms listed below:
- Hard to wake up or keep awake OR
- Acts or talks confused OR
- Slurred speech OR
- Weakness of arms or legs OR
- Walking is not steady.
- Mild: Your child feels pain and tells you about it. But, the pain does not keep your child from any normal activities. School, play and sleep are not changed.
- Moderate: The pain keeps your child from doing some normal activities. It may wake him or her up from sleep.
- Severe: The pain is very bad. It keeps your child from doing all normal activities.
When to call your doctor
Call 911 Now (your child may need an ambulance) If
- Seizure occurred
- Knocked out for more than 1 minute
- Not moving neck normally (Caution: protect the neck from any movement)
- Hard to wake up
- Acts or talks confused OR slurred speech present now
- Walking not steady OR weakness of arms/legs present now
- Major bleeding that can't be stopped (See FIRST AID)
- You think your child has a life-threatening emergency
Call Your Doctor Now (night or day) If
- You think your child has a serious injury
- Age less than 1 year old
- Neck pain after head injury
- Knocked out for less than 1 minute
- Had confused talking, slurred speech, unsteady walking OR weakness of arms/legs BUT fine now
- Blurred vision lasted more than 5 minutes
- Skin is split open or gaping and may need stitches
- Bleeding won't stop after 10 minutes of direct pressure
- Large swelling (larger than 1 inch or 2.5 cm)
- Large dent in skull
- Injury caused by high speed (car crash)
- Blow from hard object (such as a golf club)
- Fall from a dangerous height
- Vomited 2 or more times
- Severe headache or crying that won't stop
- Can't remember what happened
- You think your child needs to be seen urgently
Call Your Doctor Within 24 Hours (between 9 am and 4 pm) If
- You think your child needs to be seen, but not urgently
- Headache lasts more than 3 days
Call Your Doctor During Weekday Office Hours If
- You have other questions or concerns
- No tetanus shot in over 5 years for DIRTY cuts
- No tetanus shot in over 10 years for CLEAN cuts
Parent Care at Home If
- Minor head injury
CARE ADVICE FOR SCALP INJURIES
- What You Should Know:
- Most head injuries only cause a swelling or bruise to the scalp.
- The skull bone protects the brain from getting injured.
- The mildest brain injury is a concussion. Most of those also turn out fine.
- Here is some care advice that should help.
- Wound Care:
- If there is a scrape or cut, wash it off with soap and water.
- For any bleeding, put direct pressure on the wound. Use a gauze pad or clean cloth. Press for 10 minutes or until the bleeding has stopped.
- Cold Pack:
- Use a cold pack or ice bag wrapped in a wet cloth. Put it on any swelling. Do this for 20 minutes.
- Reason: Prevent big lumps ("goose eggs"). Also, helps with the pain.
- Repeat in 1 hour, then as needed.
- Watch Your Child:
- Watch your child closely during the first 2 hours after the injury.
- Have your child lie down and rest until all symptoms have cleared. (Note: Mild headache, mild dizziness and nausea are common)
- Allow your child to sleep if he wants to, but keep him nearby.
- Wake him up after 2 hours of sleeping. Then, check how he walks and talks.
- Offer only clear fluids to drink, in case he vomits. Allow a regular diet after 2 hours.
- To help with the pain, give acetaminophen (such as Tylenol) or ibuprofen. Use as needed. See Dose Table.
- Exception: Do not give until 2 hours have passed from injury without any vomiting.
- Never give aspirin to children and teens. Reason: Always increases risk of bleeding.
- Special Precautions at Night:
- Mainly, sleep in same room as your child for 2 nights.
- Reason: If a problem occurs, you will recognize it if you are close by. Problems include a bad headache, vomiting or confusion. Also, look for any change in your child's normal behavior.
- Option: If you are worried, wake your child once during the night. Check how he walks and talks.
- After 48 hours, return to a normal sleep routine.
- What to Expect:
- Most head impact only causes a scalp injury.
- The swelling may take a week to go away.
- The headache at the site of impact usually clears in 2 to 3 days.
- Call Your Doctor If:
- Pain or crying becomes severe
- Vomits 2 or more times
- Your child becomes hard to wake up or confused
- Walking or talking is not normal
- Your child becomes worse
Author: Barton D. Schmitt, M.D.
Last reviewed: 9/1/2012
Last revised: 1/14/2013 12:10:07 PM