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Baby and Child First Aid

Questions and answers about first aid for babies and children:head injury

Here are some questions people often ask. If you have a question that isn’t answered here, please feel free to email us at firstaid@redcross.org.uk or use this form.

Q

What can I apply to the injury to reduce external swelling and pain?

Answer
Answer

You could wrap a towel or clothing around frozen vegetables or ice and apply to the injury. You could also use a towel or clothing that’s been soaked in cold water and wrung out. Never place ice directly on the skin because it’s too cold.

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Q

Can I give my baby or child paracetamol or another painkiller after a head injury?

Answer
Answer

No. Painkillers are not advised because they can mask the signs and symptoms of a serious head injury.

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Q

Can I let my baby or child go to sleep after a head injury?

Answer
Answer

Yes, if it is their normal time to sleep and they are not displaying signs of a serious head injury. If they seem unusually drowsy this could mean they have a serious head injury and you should seek urgent medical attention.

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Q

What are the signs and symptoms of a serious head injury?

Answer
Answer

Signs and symptoms of a serious head injury include:

  • temporary unresponsiveness
  • dizziness
  • headache
  • confusion
  • feeling sick
  • blurred vision
  • increasing drowsiness
  • having no memory of what happened

 

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Q

What is concussion?

Answer
Answer

If a baby or child experiences a blow to the head, the brain can be shaken inside the skull. This is called concussion. It tends to result in the baby or child becoming unresponsive for a short period of time (a few seconds to a few minutes). Most people make a full recovery from concussion, but occasionally it may become more serious.

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Q

Do I need to keep a close eye on a baby or child who has a head injury?

Answer
Answer

Yes. You should watch them for the signs and symptoms of a serious head injury. If you suspect they do have a serious head injury you should call 999. Be aware that sometimes you may not see the signs and symptoms immediately. 


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Q

Should I call an ambulance every time my baby or child bumps their head?

Answer
Answer

You should call an ambulance if they show signs of a serious head injury. You should also seek medical advice if you are unsure of the severity of the injury.

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Q

What should I do if the head injury is bleeding heavily from a wound?

Answer
Answer

If a head injury is bleeding heavily from a wound, apply pressure to the wound to stop or slow down the flow of blood. Call 999.

Find out more about how to help a child who is bleeding heavily.

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Q

What should I do if they become unresponsive but are still breathing?

Answer

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