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You may be able to get rid of bruises faster by using ice, heat, or certain topical treatments and remedies.
How to Get Rid of Bruises
When someone hits you — or you bump into something hard — it can break the small blood vessels beneath your skin. That’s where a bruise forms. This happens because the blood leaks out and has nowhere else to go. It stays there until your body absorbs it while you’re healing.
Once you’re bruised, you’ll have that telltale black-and-blue mark on your skin for up to 2 weeks. The bruise should change colors as it heals. You may also have some pain and swelling. It will hurt most in the first few days after your injury.
When you’re bruised, there are simple things you can do to try to help the healing process along. Here are some tips that may help your bruise go away more quickly.
Put ice on your bruise right after you get injured. That can reduce the size of your bruise, which may allow it to heal faster. The cold temperature from an ice pack makes the blood in that area flow more slowly. It may reduce the amount of blood that leaks out of your vessels.
Don’t put ice directly on your bruise. Protect your skin by wrapping the ice in a washcloth or paper towel. Take the ice off after about 10 minutes. Leaving it on too long could harm your skin. It’s OK to put ice on your bruise several times a day, as long as you take a break after every time you do it.
Peas, yes. Steak, no. You may have seen people in old movies or cartoons putting raw steaks on their bruises — especially on black eyes. Don’t do this yourself. It’s not safe to handle raw meat or place it against your eye or another body part, since it may be loaded with bacteria. Steaks and other raw meats don’t have special healing powers that can help a bruise. Raw meat tends to be cold, so that’s why it may have been used to soothe sore spots in decades past. If you don’t have any ice in your freezer, reach for a bag of frozen peas instead of a steak. Place the whole bag of veggies on your bruise for 10 minutes at a time to ease the pain, just like you would with ice.
Heat boosts blood flow, and that can help clear up a bruise. Wait until 48 hours after the bruise appeared, then put a heating pad or warm compress on it several times a day. You also might soak in a hot bath to ease pain and loosen up your muscles.
Stop what you’re doing when you get hurt. That can keep the bruise from getting worse. If you get kicked during a soccer game, get off the field. Get off your feet. This slows down the blood flow to your bruise. That should keep it from becoming worse than if you kept running around.
You may want to massage the sore spot when you’re resting, but it’s a bad idea. That can make the injured spot worse. You may break more blood vessels under the skin and make the bruised area larger.
After you’re injured, it helps if you raise it above the level of your heart. This trick uses gravity to help keep your bruise as small as can be. When the sore spot is below the level of your heart, the blood there pools more easily, which can make the bruise larger. But when the sore spot is lifted above your heart, more blood will flow back to your heart.
For best results, combine steps: Rest the bruise and raise it above the level of your heart.
Compression is when you put pressure on the injured area. It can help ease any swelling caused by the bruise. It’s best to use an elastic bandage and wrap the area firmly but not too tight.
Your pain should begin to subside about 3 days after you were bruised. In the meantime, if the bruise really hurts or is swollen, you can take over-the-counter drugs to relieve your pain. NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen or naproxen can be used, though there is a slight increase in bleeding especially in elderly patients or in those already on a blood thinner.
A few natural substances may help get rid of a bruise more quickly, including:
- Arnica: This cream made with this flower may help lessen the effects of a bruise.
- Bromelain: A group of enzymes found in the pineapple, may help make a bruise go away faster.
- Aloe vera: This plant has vitamins, minerals, and enzymes that soothe and moisturize the skin. It’s used to treat many types of skin conditions, including bruises.
- Vitamin K: Studies have shown that phytonadione, or vitamin K1, can speed up the healing of bruising.
University Urgent Care: “How to Get Rid of Bruises.”
Cleveland Clinic: “Bruises: Management and Treatment.”
Nemours Foundation: “Bruises.”
American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons: “Muscle contusion (bruise).”
American Academy of Ophthalmology: “Black eye treatment.”
WVU Medicine: “Bruises: Types and Treatments.”
Mayo Clinic: “Bruise: First Aid.”
National Center for Biotechnology Information: “Accelerated Resolution of Laser-Induced Bruising With Topical 20% Arnica: A Rater-Blinded Randomized Controlled Trial,” “Nutritional Support for Wound Healing.”
National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health: “Bromelain.”
Scientific Research: “Therapeutic and Medicinal Uses of Aloe Vera: A Review.”
The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology: “Treatment of Actinic Purpura.”
10 Ways to Get Rid of Bruises
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You may be able to get rid of bruises faster by using ice, heat, or certain topical treatments and remedies.
Bruises are the result of some type of trauma or injury to the skin that causes blood vessels to burst. Bruises usually go away on their own, but you can take steps to lessen the pain and reduce the visibility.
The following treatments can be done at home:
1. Ice therapy
Apply ice immediately after the injury to reduce blood flow around the area. Cooling the blood vessels can reduce the amount of blood that leaks into the surrounding tissue. This can prevent the bruise from being as apparent and reduce swelling.
You can use a reusable ice pack, a bag of ice, or a bag of frozen vegetables wrapped in a cloth or towel. Ice the bruise for 10 minutes at a time. Wait 20 minutes before reapplying.
You can apply heat to boost circulation and increase blood flow. This will help to clear away the trapped blood after the bruise has already formed. Applying heat can also help to loosen tense muscles and relieve pain. You can use a heating pad or a hot water bottle. Soaking in a hot bath is another option.
Wrap the bruised area in an elastic bandage. This will squeeze the tissues and help prevent blood vessels from leaking. Using compression can lessen the severity of the bruise and help to reduce pain and swelling.
Elevate the bruised area so that it’s above the heart. This helps to relieve pain and drain fluid away from the bruised area. Elevation can also reduce pressure and compression. This gives you the perfect chance to rest and relax, which can also help the healing process.
Arnica is a homeopathic herb that is said to reduce inflammation and swelling, thus making it an ideal treatment for bruising. A 2010 study found that topical arnica ointment effectively reduced laser-induced bruising. You can use an arnica ointment or gel on the bruise a few times per day.
6. Vitamin K cream
Vitamin K is an essential nutrient that helps with blood clotting. Vitamin K cream was shown to reduce the severity of bruising after laser treatment in a small 2002 study . To use this treatment, gently rub vitamin K cream onto the bruise at least two times per day.
7. Aloe vera
Aloe vera has been shown to reduce pain and inflammation. You can apply it topically to the affected area. Make sure to use a gel that is pure aloe vera. Read the label carefully to check for additives.
8. Vitamin C
Vitamin C has anti-inflammatory properties and can be used to promote wound healing. You can also find gels, creams, or serums that contain vitamin C. You can apply these topically. You can also take it as a supplement. Eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables as well.
Bromelain is a mixture of enzymes found in pineapple. Bromelain can help to reduce the severity of the bruise and reduce inflammation . You can eat pineapple or take bromelain supplements. You can also apply it topically as a cream.
Comfrey is a plant that is often used to treat skin ailments and inflammation. Comfrey cream has been shown to have healing powers that can be used to treat bruises.
You can apply the cream to your bruise a few times a day. You can also make a compress using dried comfrey leaves. Steep the leaves in boiling water for 10 minutes. Then strain out the liquid and wrap the leaves in a towel or cloth. Apply it to the bruised area.
Bruises may take a few weeks to heal. Take care to rest your body to allow for maximum healing. Using some of the home remedies described here can help to speed up the healing process. Keep an eye on your progression. Keep in mind that bruises can be the result of a severe sprain or fracture. Call your doctor if:
- the injury seemed minor, but you’re still experiencing pain after three days
- you develop a lump over your bruise
- you seem to be bruising for no reason
- you notice blood in your urine or stool
These are symptoms of a more serious injury.
Last medically reviewed on June 1, 2017
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