Should I Be Concerned About a Dent in My Head?

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A dent in your head is not always a reason for worry, but it can be a sign of a serious medical problem like a head injury, bone disease, vitamin toxicity, or cancer—especially if the dent is new.

This article goes over the causes of a dent in the head and when to see a healthcare provider for diagnosis and treatment.

Doctor explaining skull X-ray to patient

JohnnyGreig / Getty Images

What Can Cause a Dent in the Head?

No skull is perfectly regular, symmetrical, or smooth. Everyone has small differences in the natural shape of their head, which may include a small indentation or dent. 

If you’ve always had a dent in your head—for example, you have felt it every time you've washed your hair—and it’s not changing, it may not be a reason to worry.

However, a new dent in the head or skull could be a sign of one of the following problems and is something to tell your provider about.


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

For example, head trauma can make a hole in the membranes that hold the fluid around the brain and spinal cord. If the fluid leaks, a person may get a chronic watery, runny nose.

A skull fracture may increase the risk of a brain infection. Blood can quickly collect in a hematoma, which can affect a person’s level of consciousness and may even make them unconscious.

Too Much Vitamin A

Your body needs to get some vitamin A to function, but too much of it can cause vitamin A toxicity—excess levels that can cause health problems.

One sign your vitamin A levels are too high? Soft bones. A softened skull bone can cause a dent in your head.

Vitamin A toxicity can also cause bone pain and weakening of the bone that makes breaks more likely (osteoporosis).

Most of the time, people who get too much vitamin A have been taking supplements. Foods like dairy and meat are natural dietary sources of vitamin A, but you would have to eat a lot of them to reach the point of vitamin A toxicity.

Paget’s Disease of Bone

Paget’s disease of the bone is a condition that happens without a known cause. It makes the bones in the body grow too much. Paget’s can affect bones throughout the body, including the skull, leading to dents and other irregularities. 

It is diagnosed based on a person’s signs and symptoms, an X-ray, and an imaging test that uses a tracer to look for bone damage or disease (bone scan).

Paget's disease of bone is thought to affect about 2% of people aged 55 and over who are of northern European descent. In other groups, it’s less common.


Cancer can spread (metastasize) to different parts of the body, including the bone. 

When cancer spreads to the bone, it can cause a dent, bump, or other irregularity. Metastatic cancer that’s invading the skull can cause the breakdown of the skull tissue and spread to the brain as well.

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

Gorham-Stout Syndrome

Gorham-Stout syndrome (or "vanishing bone disease") is a rare condition that causes progressive bone destruction. The condition causes symptoms like swelling, pain, and possible problems related to bone deformities.

Complications of bone malformations include hearing loss or nerve impairment if the bone structure interferes with nerve functioning.

Can a Dent in Your Head Be Normal?

It can be. Anyone can have a congenital skull deformity, meaning a misshapen head is noticed at birth (or early in childhood). Such differences are usually harmless and don’t change throughout a person’s life, though they can cause complications like increased pressure around the brain.

Risk Factors

Certain lifestyle factors and health conditions can make having a dent in your head more likely. 

Risk factors for getting a dent in your head include:

  • Repeated head trauma (e.g., playing contact sports)
  • Health problems that lead to falls (e.g., impaired balance)
  • Cancer
  • Bone disease 
  • Bleeding disorders 

If you have one or more risk factors, talk to your provider. They can help you make a plan to stay safe and protect your head.

Diagnosis and When to See a Provider

It's important to get medical attention if you or your child develops a new dent in the head, or one that is growing or otherwise changing. You should always tell your provider about a painful head dent, even if it's small or not changing in shape or size.

They can closely examine your head and assess for other symptoms that may point to the reason for the abnormality.

For example, a small scar can form on your scalp after a pimple heals, leaving a depression. Acne elsewhere on your body may help point to this being the cause of the impression.

If there could be a problem with the bones, your provider can do an X-ray. They can also do specific bone tests such as a bone scan to look for problems like cancer or bone disease. 

If your provider is concerned the dent in your head could be from cancer, a bone infection, or bone disease, they can take a sample of tissue from the area and send it off to the lab to be looked at more closely (biopsy). 


The treatment for a dent in your head depends on what’s causing it. A few possible examples 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 need to limit activity as it’s healing.


If you notice a new, painful, or changing dent in your head, you’ll want to have your provider look at it. While dents in the head can be natural, harmless scalp or skull shape differences, they can also be a sign that something’s wrong.

5 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. National Institute of Health. Paget's disease of the bone.

  3. Tuck SP, Layfield R, Walker J, Mekkayil B, Francis R. Adult Paget's disease of bone: a reviewRheumatology (Oxford). 2017;56(12):2050-2059. doi:10.1093/rheumatology/kew430

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By Heidi Moawad, MD
Heidi Moawad is a neurologist and expert in the field of brain health and neurological disorders. Dr. Moawad regularly writes and edits health and career content for medical books and publications.