Best Practices for Bruise Care

Bruise Care

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Bruises are caused when blood vessels under the skin break, creating a collection of trapped blood. Bruises often turn black, purple, or blue and fade with time.

Ice can lessen pain and make the bruise appear smaller by limiting under-skin bleeding. Wrap the ice in a towel and leave it on for 10 minutes.

Ice

Bruises occur when blood leaks out of small blood vessels under the skin, causing that distinctive dark purplish color. Ice packs are essential to help bruises heal more quickly and reduce pain.

Apply an ice pack (a bag of frozen vegetables is ideal) wrapped in a towel to the injured area every 1 to 2 hours for about 15 minutes. Do not put ice directly on the skin; it can cause frostbite.

Over-the-counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen can ease the discomfort. If you have sensitive skin or are susceptible to gout, Raynaud’s Disease, rheumatoid arthritis, or kidney malfunction, avoid cold temperatures or use the ice pack less frequently.

Once the initial swelling and pain subsides, try to elevate the bruised area, if possible. This encourages blood flow away from the injury, helping to diminish swelling and allowing excess fluid to drain more easily. After about a week or two, you can apply heat to the bruised area to boost circulation and speed healing.

Rest

Taking it easy and resting is crucial to an effective injury recovery strategy. But how much rest is too much, and for how long? It can be challenging to tell.

Bruises occur when blood leaks out of small blood vessels under the skin, giving it that distinctive dark, purplish color. At the first sign of a bruise, place ice on it to help reduce immediate swelling. The cold restricts blood vessels, slowing the flow of blood, which tones down coloring. Apply the ice for ten minutes on 20 minutes off several times daily.

After 24 hours, warmth can help bruises heal by boosting blood flow. Try a heating pad or warm washcloth, or soak in a hot bath to help ease pain and encourage circulation.

You can also prevent or lessen the severity of a bruise by maintaining a bruise cream and a well-balanced diet with plenty of bioflavonoids. These nutrients support healthy capillaries, helping them to resist damage. Try eating a variety of whole foods that are rich in flavonoids, such as dark leafy greens, garlic, onions, and berries.

Compression

Bumps and falls are common causes of bruises for kids, teens, and adults. Most of the time, these discolored spots will clear up on their own in a few weeks. However, there are things you can do to speed up the healing process and ease pain.

Using something cold on the bruise—an ice pack or a bag of frozen vegetables—constricts blood vessels in the area, which reduces the amount of bleeding and helps the bruise heal faster. An ointment or gel made from an arnica flower also reduces bruising and swelling and can be applied several times daily.

If the bruise swells, it’s best to wrap it with an elastic bandage, but not too tightly. Keeping the area above the heart is essential to discourage blood pooling in the affected tissue if the area is not covered. Our bodies need vitamins C and K to help clot, so eating plenty of citrus fruits, leafy green vegetables, and fortified breakfast cereals can also help prevent bruising.

Elevation

The RICE method (rest, ice, compression, and elevation) is an effective first line of defense against bruises. This technique helps to minimize swelling and pain, allowing the bruised body part to drain blood faster.

Avoid massaging the bruised area. This can break more blood vessels, causing the bruise to enlarge. Instead, use a warm compress several times a day to help flush out trapped blood and ease discomfort.

It’s also helpful to elevate the injured body part, such as sitting in a chair with the bruised leg raised on cushions. This trick uses gravity to drain the blood from the bruised area, helping reduce pain and swelling.

If a bruise is severe with extreme swelling and tenderness, seek emergency medical attention. This may indicate a condition called compartment syndrome, where intense pressure in the bruised area decreases the supply of blood and oxygen to the tissues. This can be life-threatening. Excessive bruising can also be a symptom of anemia, two of which are characterized by a lack of iron in the body. Iron-rich foods like fish, meat, and green leafy vegetables can help prevent anemia.

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