It doesn’t take much for a bruise to occur and when they do, you want them gone as quickly as possible.
A bruise happens when there has been some kind of blow to the skin. Medically known as a contusion, it is a skin injury to the tissue where blood vessels near the skin’s surface have been broken and blood leaks into the surrounding area. The blood is trapped giving an appearance of a black-and-blue mark.
During the summer when more skin is showing, having an ugly, discolored bruise is the last thing you want people to notice. Bruises, depending on the severity and size, will fade on their own. But there are several steps you can do to make the process go as fast as possible:
1. After bumping or scrapping your skin and you realize a bruise is starting to form, ice the area as quickly as possible. Icing a fresh bruise constricts the blood vessels preventing the blood from leaking any further and helps reduce any pain. Redness and swelling will also be reduced with ice. Use a standard ice pack, or fill a resealable plastic bag with ice chips or use a bag of frozen fruit or vegetables, to lay over the bruise. Ice the area for 15 minutes each hour and avoid over-chilling the skin around it. Do this for the first 24 hours as frequently as possible.
2. While you are icing the bruise, elevate the bruised area above your heart to reduce blood flow and to prevent blood from pooling in the traumatized area. For example, if the bruise is on your arm, prop it up on an armrest or with a few pillows so it is elevated above the heart.
3. If needed, take an over-the-counter pain reliever for relief such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen.
4. After the first 24 hours, stop using ice packs and switch to warm compresses. Use wet, warm compresses like a washrag soaked in warm water and apply to the bruise for 15 minutes. This can be done each hour for the next 48 hours. The warmth helps get rid of any blood that pooled around the bruise, reducing discoloration and speeds up healing.
5. Rest also is necessary in the healing process of a bruise. You actually don’t want to be doing much movement for the first 2-3 days as moving your muscles increases blood flow to the area which is not what you want. Take it easy and let your body repair itself.
6. Usually bruises do not need medical attention from a doctor, but if you notice bruising without any significant bumps, falls or other injuries, you need to get it checked out as soon as possible. Also if there are signs of an infection around the bruise (pus or other drainage) and/or you’re running a fever, go the doctor. If you notice or feel extreme pressure around the bruise go to a doctor immediately. This could be a sign of compartment syndrome which is life-threatening.