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First Aid for Skull Fracture

Last updated March 3, 2018

A Skull Fracture describes any injury to the head or skull that results in a fracture of the skull bones. It is a common condition in both children and adults and is often associated with a head injury. It can potentially lead to disability or death.


What is Skull Fracture?

A Skull Fracture describes any injury to the head or skull that results in a fracture of the skull bones. It is a common condition in both children and adults and is often associated with a head injury. It can potentially lead to disability or death.

What are the Causes of Skull Fracture?

A Skull Fracture may be caused by several factors that result in a blow to the head. It may be due to the following factors:

  • Contact or rough-impact sports
  • Fall injuries such that the head is injured
  • Assaults due to street fights, domestic violence causing head injuries
  • Automobile or vehicular accidents; industrial accidents
  • Injuries sustained when heavy objects fall on unprotected head

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Skull Fracture?

The signs and symptoms of a Skull Fracture depend on the severity of the injury and may include:

  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Localized swelling, with or without bruising
  • Laceration
  • Discoloration/bruising, under the eyes or behind the ears
  • Severe headaches
  • Mild to severe bleeding; bleeding may occur from the nose or ears
  • Visible fracture injuries
  • Unable to move one’s head or neck
  • Clear fluid leaking from the nose or ears
  • Speech disturbances
  • Confusion; loss of balance, feeling drowsy
  • Irregular heartbeat, weak pulse
  • Difficulty using arms or legs
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Impaired sensations; may include vision, hearing, taste, and/or smell
  • Seizures
  • Unconsciousness

How is First Aid administered for Skull Fracture?

First Aid tips for Skull Fracture:

In case of a minor trauma:

  • Apply an ice-pack or ice wrapped in cloth, on the affected area
  • Check for any bleeding signs
  • Ensure that the individual can breathe normally
  • Check for injuries at other body sites

In case of a severe trauma:

  • Call 911 (or your local emergency number), if the individual has any of the following symptoms:
    • Severe headache and/or severe bleeding
    • Clear fluid leaking from the nose or ears
    • Discoloration/bruising under the eyes or behind the ears
    • Speech disturbances; confusion
    • Irregular heart beat
    • Loss of balance
    • Difficulty using arms or legs
    • Difficulty breathing
    • Unequal pupil size
    • Impaired sensations including vision, hearing, taste, and smell
    • Seizures
    • Unconsciousness
  • If the individual is not breathing, begin CPR immediately (if you are trained to do so)
  • Immobilize the individual; DO NOT leave the individual all by himself/herself
  • STOP any bleeding by applying direct pressure on the affected area, using a clean cloth or bandage
  • DO NOT apply direct pressure, if the individual has a skull fracture
  • Try to keep the head, neck, and body, in line, to avoid or aggravate (any) spine injury
  • DO NOT wash the affected area
  • DO NOT just turn the individual’s head, if he/she is vomiting; instead, move their head, neck, and entire body, to one side (take assistance from other bystanders)
  • DO NOT remove any object sticking out from a wound, for this may cause severe bleeding
  • DO NOT remove the helmet, if a head injury is suspected
  • DO NOT pick up a child, if the child has a head injury
  • DO NOT take alcohol, following a head injury

Who should administer First Aid for Skull Fracture?

The individual with the Skull Fracture or someone near the affected person, or qualified healthcare personnel, may administer first aid.

What is the Prognosis of Skull Fracture?

The prognosis depends on the severity of the Skull Fracture and the prompt treatment rendered. Mild injuries have better prognoses than severe Skull Fracture injuries.

How can Skull Fracture be Prevented?

A few helpful tips to prevent Skull Fracture:

  • Use of appropriate headgear, wearing helmets and seat belts, may help avoid severe injuries
  • Fall-proof the home, especially considering children and elderly adults
  • Do not allow toddlers and young children to use stairs, without adult supervision

What are certain Crucial Steps to be followed?

  • Immobilization of the head and neck
  • Control bleeding (if any)
  • Starting CPR, if necessary
  • Calling 911 (or your local emergency number)

What are some Useful Resources for Additional Information?


References and Information Sources used for the Article:


Helpful Peer-Reviewed Medical Articles:


Reviewed and Approved by a member of the DoveMed Editorial Board
First uploaded: Aug. 26, 2017
Last updated: March 3, 2018