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Should I Be Concerned About a Dent in My Head?

Some skull abnormalities are genetic, but others could indicate a serious medical condition. Learn about the causes and treatment of a dent in the head. Skull shape isn’t always perfectly regular, symmetrical, and smooth. Many people naturally have minor irregularities in the shape of their skull, and this can include a small indentation. However, a new dent or a bump on your skull could indicate

  • Posted on 06th May, 2022 12:30 PM
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Skull shape isn’t always perfectly regular, symmetrical, and smooth. Many people naturally have minor irregularities in the shape of their skull, and this can include a small indentation. However, a new dent or a bump on your skull could indicate a serious medical issue.

After a traumatic head injury, such as a blow to the head, it’s important to carefully check whether you or your child develops a dent in the skull. Besides trauma, other common causes of a dent in the skull are bone disease or cancer.

This article will discuss the causes of a dent in the head, risk factors, when to see a healthcare provider, diagnosis, and treatment.

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Causes

There are several known causes of a dent in the head. If you’ve consistently had a dent that isn’t changing, you might have already noticed it when you brush or shampoo your hair. A new dent in the head or skull can develop for many different reasons, and it’s important not to ignore it. 

Gorham’s Disease

Gorham-Stout disease is a very rare condition that causes progressive bone destruction, with swelling, pain, and possible problems due to bone deformity. Complications of bone malformations can include hearing loss or nerve impairment if the bone structure interferes with nerve functioning.

Paget’s Disease of Bone

Paget’s disease of the bone is an idiopathic (without a known cause) condition that causes an overgrowth of bone. The condition can involve bones throughout the body, as well as the skull. It is diagnosed based on clinical features, an X-ray, and a bone scan (an imaging test that uses a tracer to look for bone damage or disease).

Paget's Disease Prevalence

Paget's disease of bone is a common metabolic bone disease (second only to osteoporosis). It is believed to affect about 2% of people age 55 and over of northern European descent and is rare in many populations.

Cancer

Cancer can metastasize (spread) to different parts of the body, including the bone. When cancer spreads to the bone, it can cause a bump, dent, or irregularity. Metastatic cancer that’s invading the skull can cause breakdown of the skull tissue and may invade the brain. 

Imaging tests, such as computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) can identify cancer that affects the skull or brain.

Trauma/Injury

Getting hit in the head can cause swelling of the skin, a bone fracture, or hematoma (a collection of blood). Sometimes these bumps or dents resolve on their own, but they can cause serious problems. 

For example, head trauma can create a hole in the membranes holding cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), the fluid that surrounds the brain and spinal cord. A leak of CSF may cause a chronic watery, runny nose. This can indicate a dangerous situation. A skull fracture may increase the risk of a brain infection. Blood can quickly collect in a hematoma, with changes in consciousness. 

Congenital Skull Indentation

Anyone can have a slight deformity of the skull, which may be noticeable at birth or as a child grows. A congenital skull deformity is present from birth or develops during childhood. These are harmless and should stay stable throughout life.

Some skull deformities can occur due to serious developmental problems or can cause complications, such as increased fluid pressure around the brain.

If you have any concerns about your child's skull deformity, you should see a doctor about it to have a medical assessment.

Risk Factors

You may be at risk of having a dent in the head if you have certain lifestyle factors or health conditions. 

Risk factors can include:

  • Repeated head trauma, such as from contact sports 
  • Health issues that lead to falls, such as impaired balance
  • Cancer
  • Bone disease 
  • Bleeding disorders 

If you have one or more of these risk factors, talk to your healthcare provider about which signs and symptoms require a medical appointment and which require urgent medical attention. 

When to See a Healthcare Provider

If you or your child develops a new dent in the head or a growing or changing dent in the head, it’s important to get medical attention. Also talk to your healthcare provider about any painful head dents, even if it’s small or not changing in shape or size.

Diagnosis

Sometimes, a small scar can form on the scalp after a pimple heals, and this can feel like a dent. And skin conditions, like scalp psoriasis or severe dandruff, can cause a bump. It can be easy to confuse a scalp irregularity with a dent in the skull.

If you can’t tell the difference, your healthcare provider will be able to distinguish a scalp deformity from a skull deformity by looking closely at your skin and feeling the area. 

Often, a bone defect can be identified with a skull X-ray. This imaging test can detect changes in bone structure, and it can often identify the cause. If necessary, your healthcare provider may also order specific bone tests such as a bone scan to visualize problems like cancer or bone disease. 

Rarely, a biopsy procedure may be necessary to identify whether a dent in the skull could be caused by cancer, a bone infection, or a bone disease. In a biopsy, a sample of tissue is removed and analyzed in the laboratory.

Treatment

A dent in the skull may require treatment. The treatment depends on the cause.

Examples of treatments for a dent in the head include:

Often, a bone fracture will heal on its own. If it is a large fracture or if there is a risk of infection, you might be advised to limit activity as it’s healing.

Summary

A dent in the head can be worrisome, especially if it is new, painful, or changing. These bumps can be a result of a natural, harmless scalp or skull deformity, or they can be caused by disease or trauma.

Make sure to see a healthcare professional if you or your child has a painful or painless depression or bump on the head. Causes can include natural variation, Paget's disease of the bone, Gorham-Stout disease, trauma, or cancer. Treatment will be targeted to the cause.

A Word From Verywell

Finding a dent in the head can be concerning. If you notice a bump or dent in your skull or scalp, talk to your healthcare provider about it. You may need a medical evaluation, treatment, or strategies to prevent serious complications. Getting timely attention can help ensure that you have the best outcome.  

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is it normal to have dents in your head?

    It is normal to have slight irregularities in the skull or scalp, just like it’s normal for skin anywhere on the body to have small birthmarks. However, changes in skull shape and new bumps or dents in the skull or scalp can be a sign of a serious medical issue.

  • What should I do if I just noticed a dent in my head that wasn’t there before?

    You should get medical attention if you or your child has a new dent or bump on the head. Sometimes treatment may be necessary, and emergency intervention may be needed for a traumatic bleed or a bump caused by cancer.

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