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Injuries: Head injury

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  • Most head injuries are not serious and simply cause a bump or a bruise.

  • If your child’s head is bleeding, apply pressure for 5-10 minutes. If it continues to bleed or there is a gaping wound, they may need to have it glued (stitches are very rarely required). This may be done in a minor injuries unit or Emergency Department. Some GPs also assess and treat minor injuries.
When should I get help?




What should I do?
  • Your child needs to be observed by an adult for the first day after injury and should not be left unattended.

  • In general, if your child cries immediately after a head injury and returns to their normal self in a short time, they can be managed at home. You should observe them closely for the next couple of days, checking that they are responding normally to you. They may be pale or quieter than normal for the first couple of hours after a head injury – this is normal.

  • If your child is under a year of age, begins vomiting, has a headache that is getting worse, is behaving oddly or has fallen from a height taller than they are, they will need to be seen urgently by a medical practitioner. Call your GP surgery or ring NHS 111.

  • Let your child rest and try to avoid strenuous activity until their symptoms have settled.

  • Give them paracetamol (Calpol) and/or ibuprofen if they are in pain.

  • If your child has been concussed, a graded return to normal activities/school is always recommended. It is best to avoid computer games, sporting activity and excessive exercise for 2 weeks until all symptoms have improved. Click here for more advice about this.
How long will my child's symptoms last?
  • Your child is likely to return to normal within a few hours of a minor head injury.

  • In the few days following a more significant head injury, your child may experience mild headaches, may struggle to concentrate, may lack appetite and may have problems sleeping. If these symptoms go on for more than 2 weeks, make an appointment to see your GP.
Where should I get help?
Self Care

For wear and tear, minor trips and everything in between.


You can treat your child's very minor illnesses and injuries at home.

Some illnesses can be treated in your own home with support and advice from the services listed when required, using the recommended medicines and getting plenty of rest.

Sound advice

Children can recover from illness quickly but also can become more poorly quickly; it is important to seek further advice if a child's condition gets worse.

More information on common childhood illnesses.

Local Pharmacist

Pharmacists are experts in many aspects of healthcare. They are the first port of call for minor ailments and can provide advice and medication (if needed) for a wide range of long term conditions and common ailments including coughs and colds.

Pharmacy First is a free service. You do not need an appointment and many pharmacies have a private consultation area.

Your pharmacist will let you know if you need further medical attention.

Sound advice

  1. Visit a pharmacy if your child is ill, but does not need to see a GP.
  2. Remember that if your child's condition gets worse, you should seek further medical advice immediately.
  3. Help your child to understand - watch this video with them about going to the pharmacy.
Health Visitor

Health visitors are nurses or midwives who are passionate about promoting healthy lifestyle and preventing illness through the Universal Health Visiting Pathway. They work with you through your pregnancy up until your child is ready to start school.

Your health visitor may be able to refer you on to other health professionals, for example if there are hearing or vision concerns.

Contact them by phoning your local health visiting team.

Sound advice

Health visitors also provide advice, support and guidance in caring for your child, including:

  • Breastfeeding, weaning and healthy eating
  • Exercise, hygiene and safety
  • Your child’s growth and development
  • Emotional health and wellbeing, including postnatal depression
  • Safety in the home
  • Stopping smoking
  • Contraception and sexual health
  • Sleep and behaviour management (including temper tantrums!)
  • Toilet training
  • Minor illnesses

For more information watch the video: What does a health visitor do?

GP (General Practitioner)
GPs assess, treat and manage a whole range of health problems. They also provide health education, give vaccinations and carry out simple surgical procedures. Your GP will arrange a referral to a hospital specialist should you need it.

Sound advice

You have a choice of service:

  1. Doctors/GPs can treat many illnesses that do not warrant a visit to the Emergency Department.
  2. For minor injuries such as cuts that need stitches, broken bones, sprains and minor burns in children aged 5 or over, go to one of our Minor Injury Units (MIU). 
If you’re not sure which NHS service you need, call NHS 111. An adviser will ask you questions to assess your symptoms and then give you the advice you need, or direct you straightaway to the best service for you in your area.

Sound advice

Use NHS 24 if you are unsure what to do next, have any questions about a condition or treatment or require information about local health services.

Emergency Department
Emergency departments provide vital care for life-threatening emergencies, such as loss of consciousness, suspected heart attacks, breathing difficulties, or severe bleeding that cannot be stopped. If you’re not sure it’s an emergency, call NHS 111 for advice.

Sound advice

  1. Many visits to the Emergency Department and calls to 999 could be resolved by any other NHS services.
  2. If your child's condition is not critical, choose another service to get them the best possible treatment.
  3. Help your child to understand – watch this video with them about going to the Emergency Department or riding in an ambulance

Content adapted with permission from the resource produced by the Healthier Together initiative


Editorial Information

Last reviewed: 01 October 2022

Next review: 31 October 2025

Reviewer Name(s): Dr Morag Wilson; Dr Geetika Kumar