Cephalohematoma

Dr. Alan Greene answers the question, When is the lump on my son's head likely to subside?

Question

My son was born with a cephalohematoma. The doctor said it's most often seen with vacuum extraction, but I had a c-section. I would like to know when the lump on my son's head is likely to subside.

Answer

A cephalohematoma is quite common. Sometimes people confuse them with subdural hematomas, which are less common. A subdural hematoma is a collection of blood inside the skull, while a cephalohematoma is a collection of blood under the skin of the scalp. Because of the connections of the tissues there, a cephalohematoma stays on top of one of the skull bones: it does not cross the midline. They are usually caused from the events surrounding birth. They can come from the head banging against the pelvic bone during labor, and they are indeed most common if a vacuum is used to assist delivery.

Cephalohematomas generally do not present any problem to babies, except for an increased risk of jaundice in the first days. (A subdural hematoma -- where the lump is inside the skull, and not visible, can be more problematic.) The lump of a cephalohematoma goes away on its own with no treatment needed. It can take weeks or months, with three months being pretty common. Often the middle of the hematoma will start to disappear first while the outer rim gets harder (from calcium). So it sometimes feels like a moon crater to parents before it goes away. This is normal and again, cephalohematomas are not dangerous.

 

All content here, including advice from doctors and other health professionals, should be considered as opinion only. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.

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