Bruises occur due to an accumulation of blood under the skin. They can be due to trauma such as a fall, bumping into furniture or even after a kiss. These marks are purple at first, and become yellow, greenish, brown as they heal.
Usually bruises disappear gradually without the need for treatment but can be painful and not aesthetically pleasing, so massaging the region gently with an anti-inflammatory ointment, such as diclofenac, is a good option to help eliminate the bruising more quickly.
However, there are other simple ways to eliminate bruises:
1. Apply ice on the bruise
This is a very simple and quick way to get rid of bruises and consists of applying an ice cube over the bruise as soon as it appears. The ice will help to decrease the blood supply to the region, thus reducing the bruise.
You should apply the ice cube in circular movements. If the cold causes you pain, you should wrap the ice in a fine, clean cloth such as a dish rag. You should apply the ice over the region for 3 to 5 minutes and then wait one hour before repeating the procedure.
2. Use a warm compress
To remove bruises that appeared more than 24 hours ago, place a warm water compress on the area so that you can increase local blood circulation and help remove any clots that may have formed. To do this, you should soak a cloth in warm water and then apply it directly on the region, letting it sit for approximately 20 minutes. After one hour, the procedure can be repeated.
There are packs and compresses that can be placed in the microwave for 1 to 2 minutes. These can be placed directly on the skin, and can easily be found in pharmacies and supermarkets.
3. Apply an ointment for bruises
In addition to diclofenac ointment, sodium heparin-based ointments are great options for removing blood from under your skin, either from the arms, legs or other parts of the body.
Homemade ointments can also be used such as natural aloe vera and arnica gel, which have anti-inflammatory properties and facilitate healing, thereby eliminating the purple bruising.
When to go to the doctor
It is recommended you seek medical help when you present any of the following:
- Bruises appear easily on your skin, like from lightly hitting a padded sofa corner
- Several bruises appear on your body that do not hurt
- When the bruises can be seen but you do not remember how they appeared
- When bruises appear and disappear from one day to the next.
If the bruise causes severe pain or if there is another sign that blood circulation has changed in the region, such as swelling of the affected limb or severe redness, you should also go to the hospital to rule out other more serious problems such as thrombosis.
Main causes of bruising
The main causes of bruising are trauma to the affected area, which can occur from sports, falls, dropping heavy objects or car accidents, for example.
However, a bruise may arise due to any number of reasons, such as an injection, when blood is drawn for testing, after suction cup therapy, and even following cosmetic procedures like liposuction.
Usually these bruises are not severe and disappear on their own, but the use of ice and warm compresses can help eliminate them more quickly.
In addition, bruising may also occur as a result of a coagulation disorder, so depending on its extent and severity you should seek medical help because it may indicate severe bleeding.
Bruises are unsightly but will typically fade in two to three weeks, depending on the size and severity of the bruise.
But if you’re in a hurry to get rid of those blotchy, purple spots sooner, here are five remedies that can speed up the healing process.
Ice is one of the most commonly used, tried and true remedies for bruises and other injuries.
When you get a bruise, it damages your blood vessels and causes the blood to leak out. The blood gets trapped in the surrounding soft tissues, giving skin a blotchy, purple appearance, says Angelo Marino, DO, vascular and interventional radiologist at Yale Medicine.
“Ice or anything frozen placed over the site of injury works by decreasing the amount of inflammation and swelling in the area. It also constricts the tiny blood vessels in the surrounding tissues, thereby decreasing the amount of blood that leaks out,” says Marino.
How to use it:
It’s best to take action as soon as possible after the injury. Marino says you should apply an ice pack or something else cold like a bag of frozen peas over the area immediately after the injury, and then again throughout the first 24 to 48 hours after.
You can ice the area for 15 minutes at a time, and then wait about 15 to 20 minutes before reapplying the ice. Marino says you can do this several times throughout the day. Just be sure to wrap the ice in a cloth or paper towel to protect your skin from cold temperatures.
On the opposite side of the spectrum, heat can also help clear up a bruise. Marino says heat works by increasing blood flow to the bruised area, which can help your body break up and reabsorb the trapped blood.
How to use it:
According to Mariano, it’s best to avoid heat at first. Instead, you should opt for remedies like ice to decrease inflammation.
But after 48 hours, you can apply a heating pad or warm towel to the bruised area for about 10 to 15 minutes. Marino says it should be warm, but not to the point where it is uncomfortable to have on your skin. You can repeat this several times throughout the day.
When you put pressure on an injured area, it can decrease swelling and prevent the injured blood vessels from leaking, which reduces the severity of the bruise, Marino says.
How to use it:
Use an elastic bandage to firmly wrap the bruised region. The bandage should be tight, but not so tight that it causes discomfort, says Marino.
Compression should be used in the first 24-48 hours as that is when it is most beneficial in decreasing swelling and pain, Marino says, and it’s best to combine elevation and compression when possible.
If you can manage to elevate your bruise, gravity will pull the blood down, away from the wound, which can reduce the amount of blood that leaks out thereby minimizing any swelling and black-and-blue splotching.
How to do it:
Marino says it’s best to elevate the injured area above the level of your heart when possible. For example, if your ankle is bruised, try lying flat on your back with your foot propped up on a few pillows to use gravity to your advantage. However, depending on the body part, this method may not always be possible.
For centuries, a herb called arnica has been used for medicinal purposes, says Marino. In his own practice Marino says his patients have reported that arnica has helped bruising clear up faster.
Furthermore, a 2010 study found that participants who applied 20% arnica ointment — topically — twice a day for two weeks helped reduce bruising, compared to a control group using a placebo.
How to use it:
Apply a thin layer of arnica cream or gel to the bruised area. You can purchase this over the counter at drug stores. Massage it over the area up to three times a day, Marino says.
Bruises can be a pain –– literally and figuratively –– but home remedies like applying a cold compress or elevating the wound can help speed up the healing process and get your skin looking clear again.
For the best results, try a combination of the five techniques discussed in this article. Marino says it can take up to three weeks for a bruise to fully go away, so be patient as it heals, but these tips should help speed things up.
“Every patient and injury is different and responses to the remedies are also variable. In general, following these recommendations should help the bruise heal quicker,” says Marino.
Bruises are commonly caused due to blunt trauma. When we hit a heavy object, the small blood vessels near the skin surface are broken and they bleed under the skin. The blood then leaks out of the vessel causing a bluish-black discoloration that slowly gets reabsorbed by the body and becomes yellowish green before finally disappearing. While this can take 24 to 48 hours for smaller bruises, some larger bruises can last up to 14 days.
- Apply a cold compress for the first 24 to 48 hours after the injury. The quicker you ice, the more you minimize bruising. Avoid massaging the bruise or applying heat because it may make the bruise larger. After 48 hours, a warm compress can be used to help break the bruise apart and to encourage lymphatic drainage.
- Taking over-the-counter (OTC) Tylenol twice a day for the first two days may help reduce the pain associated with bruising and limit the spread.
- Healing from bruises can be accelerated with vitamin E, which is responsible for bolstering the body. In combination with vitamin C, it increases the rate of cell and tissue reconstruction.
- Bromelain, a supplement derived from pineapples, may reduce swelling and bruises as well. , applied topically, can help bruises fade and will help make you less prone to bruising. Vitamin K clarifying cream is recommended.
- A pulse dye laser can be used to help clear bruises within 24 to 48 hours after the bruise appears. gel is an herbal remedy that has proven to help reduce inflammation and bruising. Arnica should never be used on broken skin and people who suffer from eczema or other skin conditions should use it with caution.
- Bruising occurs when small blood vessels called capillaries rupture. A diet that is rich in vitamin C will help strengthen capillaries and make the skin less susceptible to bruising. Increase your vitamin C intake by eating plenty of fresh kiwis, oranges, berries and other fruits and vegetables containing vitamin C. Supplements containing vitamin C will also be beneficial.
- If you bruise your leg, try to take a break and sit on a sofa or armchair with your leg up on a pillow so that your leg is above heart level. If your arm is bruised, try to keep it propped up above heart level whenever you are sitting.
- Some experts believe that parsley aids the healing process. Take a handful of fresh parsley leaves, crush them and spread them over the bruise. Wrap the area with an elastic bandage.
- Hirudoid cream contains mucopolysaccharides (MPS), which promote tissue regeneration and reduction of swelling and inflammation. The cream is gently massaged into the bruised area twice daily, avoiding the incision line.
- After 24 hours, it's safe to apply heat to increase circulation to the bruise and to start to clear away the pooled blood. Try placing an electric heating pad, warm compress or hot water bottle on top of the area for 20 minutes several times a day.
What is a bruise?
A bruise, medically referred to as a hematoma, is caused when a part of the body gets banged or squeezed, causing the blood vessels to break and bleed just underneath the surface of the skin. When bruising first occurs, it is usually red in color due to the blood collecting at the site of the injury. Then, over the course of about 10 days to 2 weeks, the body begins to break down the pooled blood and reabsorbs it. This process causes bruises to change color before they eventually disappear. The lifespan of a bruise looks something like this
Most bruises happen when you sustain an injury that fails to break the skin, but crushes the small blood vessels underneath. Blood then leaks and becomes trapped under the surface, leaving the telltale mark.
How does toothpaste get rid of bruises?
There’s little evidence it does. Search online and you’ll find this tip listed as a “hack” for helping bruises disappear, which may be related to other advice recommending peppermint oil for the same purpose. But dermatologists say peppermint oil could irritate the skin, and toothpaste may have even more potentially skin-irritating ingredients. If you really want to put something soothing on the bruised skin, you may be better off trying aloe vera, though it won’t get rid of a bruise.
How long do bruises take to heal?
Most bruises will heal within a week.
How to get rid of bruises overnight
Unless you put make-up or concealer on the bruise to cover it up, there isn’t much that can be done. Putting ice on a bruise can help minimize swelling.
What is easy bruising a sign of?
“Easy bruising” refers to bruising that appears without an injury, or bruising from minor trauma that wouldn’t have caused bruising in the past.
Possible causes of easy bruising include taking blood thinners and steroids. The effects of chemotherapy can also lead to easy bruising. Aging is another factor, because blood vessels become more fragile as people get older.
Easy bruising might be a sign that a person isn’t getting enough vitamin K, found in leafy green vegetables, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts, in the diet. In rare cases, easy bruising can be a sign of blood, bone marrow or lymph node cancers. Liver disease could also be a factor.
What if a bruise doesn’t go away?
See a doctor if you have a bruise that lasts longer than two weeks without changing. It may not be a bruise at all or it may be caused by an underlying problem. Tell your physician if you have recurrent bruises without any clear causes.
A bruise accompanied by significant pain and swelling also warrants medical attention. That could represent a larger bleed under the skin, especially if you’ve had a significant fall or injury.