Learn first aid for someone who has a head injury

A blow to the head may result in someone having pain or a headache. There may be a bump on their head and they may look pale.

1. Ask them to rest and apply something cold to the injury – for example, frozen vegetables wrapped in a tea towel.

Applying something cold to the injury will reduce external swelling and pain. When a person has a blow to the head, their brain can be shaken inside the skull as well. This may cause a more serious head injury (for example, concussion), which may make them feel sick or drowsy.

2. Call 999 if they become drowsy, vomit or their condition gets worse.

This could be a sign of a serious injury to the head. If you can’t call 999, get someone else to do it.

Watch how to help someone who has a head injury (1 minute 47 seconds)

Common questions about first aid for someone who has a head injury

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


What is concussion?


What are the signs and symptoms of concussion?


Should I watch a baby or child who has a head injury to see if they have concussion?


How do I know whether to call 999 after a head injury?


What if the person becomes unresponsive as the result of a head injury?


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

 

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

You could wrap a towel or clothing around frozen vegetables or ice and apply it to the injury.

Never place ice directly on the skin, as it’s too cold.

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What is concussion?

Concussion happens when the brain is shaken inside the skull because of a blow to the head.

A person with concussion tends to be unresponsive for a few seconds to a few minutes. Most people make a full recovery from concussion, but occasionally it becomes more serious.

Call 999 if you think they have concussion.

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What are the signs and symptoms of concussion?

A person may have concussion if they:

  • are temporarily unresponsive
  • are dizzy
  • have a headache
  • are confused
  • feel sick
  • have blurred vision
  • get more drowsy
  • have no memory of what happened.

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Should I watch a person who has a head injury to see if they have concussion?

Yes, you should watch anyone who has had a head injury for the signs of concussion. Sometimes you may not see the signs immediately. Call 999 if you suspect they have concussion.

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How do I know whether to call 999 after a head injury?

Call 999 if they vomit, become unresponsive or show other signs of a serious head injury.

You should also seek medical advice if you are unsure how bad the injury is but think it could be serious.

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What if the person becomes unresponsive as a result of a head injury?

Find out:

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

Apply pressure to the wound to stop or slow down the flow of blood and call 999.

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

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Email us if you have any other questions about first aid for someone who has a head injury.