What are Bruises?
A bruise which is known medically as a contusion is a very common injury to the skin resulting in discoloration. The blood from the damaged cells beneath the surface of the skin pools near to the skin’s surface which results in a familiar black or blue mark.
While bruises can be very serious, most of the time, they are caused by simple injuries and will have no lasting impact.
Causes of Bruising
I am almost certain that the vast majority, if not all of you have experienced a bruise at one time or another. If you are involved on contact sports, then the chances are that you will have multiple bruises for the majority of the time.
Bruises are typically caused by something bumping into you or by knocking into something. Some of the most common causes of bruises include the following:
- People who exercise a great deal are more prone at risk of bruising. Those involved on contact sports and heavy exertion like weightlifting are especially prone. The bruises are caused by tiny tears in the blood vessels beneath the skin.
- If bruising occurs often for unexplained reasons, it may indicate that a person has some sort of bleeding disorder. This is especially true when bruising is accompanied with bleeding gums and frequent nosebleeds.
- Sometimes unexplained bruising can appear but that may be the result of a knock to the thighs or shins that you can not recall.
- The elderly are more prone to bruising because skin gets weaker and thinner as we age. The tissues supporting the blood vessels are also weaker and more fragile in the elderly.
- Bruising is also more common in people taking blood thinning medications.
Symptoms of Bruises
- Fresh bruises usually take on a reddish appearance initially. Within the hours following an injury, the turn a blue or purple color.
- After several days, they become green or yellow as they heal.
- Bruises are usually tender to the touch and sometimes painful at first. This pain usually diminishes as the colors fade.
- Because there is no broken skin, your bruise does not put you at risk of infection.
Home Remedies to Help your Bruise Heal
Most of the time, bruising will clear up on its own in fairly good time. However, you can speed up this process by using one of the following excellent home remedies.
1) Ice Packs
Applying cold to your bruise is a great remedy for pain, swelling and discoloration. One of the best ways to do this is with an ice pack. The cold temperatures from the ice help to constrict those blood vessels beneath the skin, this helps to prevent further pooling of blood near the surface.
- Take a handful of ice cubes and wrap them in a thin towel or cloth.
- Hold the towel against the bruised area for 10 to 15 minutes.
- Repeat every couple of hours for the first day or two.
- If you or your child find that the ice is unbearable, soak a cloth in very cold water and use that instead.
Arnica is a perennial herb belonging to the sunflower family. It has a number of medicinal uses including being a good natural treatment for bruising. Applying arnica tincture or gel to your bruise can hel reduce swelling, pain and improve circulation to the surface of the skin.
- Gently massage some arnica gel into the bruise several times each day for as long as necessary.
- You can also apply the tincture as long as you dilute it with a little water.
- Another method is to combine a tablespoon of arnica tincture with an equal amount of witch hazel and St. John’s wort ans an essential oil
3) Herbal Compress
Applying a compress made with herbal tea can soothe the pain and help reduce swelling.
- Put a teaspoon of dried lavender and chamomile flowers into a mug of boiled water.
- Cover and steep for around 15 minutes.
- Strain out the flowers and put the tea in the fridge.
- When it is sufficiently cool, soak a cloth in the tea and apply it to your bruise as a compress.
- Repeat several times each day.
4) Warm Compress
A few days after your injury once the swelling has subsided, you can use a warm compress to further treat your bruise. It can help to dilate your blood vessels and to improve the circulation to the skin.
Note that heat should not not be used for the first few days because it may increase the bleeding beneath the skin.
- Soak a cloth or a thin towel in hot water and wring out the excess fluid.
- Apply the compress to your bruised skin for at least 15 minutes several times each day.
Bromelain which is an enzyme found in pineapple has excellent anti-inflammatory properties. Studies have demonstrated that bromelain can help relieve pain and swelling and help bruises to recover more quickly.
You can take bromelain supplements 3 times a day in a dose of 250 mg to 400 mgs until your bruise has healed. While fresh pineapple is extremely healthy, it will not provide you with the amount of bromelain necessary to treat your bruising.
6) Vitamin K
Vitamin K cream can be applied to your bruise to help relieve bruising because it can help to regulate blood clotting.
- Massage some vitamin K cream into the affected area of your skin twice each day.
- Eat plenty of foods that are rich in the vitamin including spinach, kale, alfalfa and various other leafy greens.
Note that you should not take vitamin K supplements if you are currently taking a prescription blood thinner or have a history of blood clotting.
Comfrey has long been used to help treat a variety of wounds and injuries such as bruises and sprains. It is best applied in the form of a cold compress initially. After a few days of healing, you can use your comfrey to make a soothing warm compress.
- Make up some comfrey tea by steeping a tablespoon of the dried herb in a mug of boiled water.
- Cover and steep for at least 15 minutes.
- Strain and place in the fridge to chill.
- Soak a cloth in the tea and apply to the bruise for around 15 minutes several times each day.
- After a few days, you can use the warm compress treatment.
8) Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar has a variety of health benefits because of its many medicinal properties. It has excellent anti-inflammatory actions that make it a good choice for healing minor wounds and bruising.
- Soak a thin towel or a cloth in the vinegar and add a little water.
- Place the cloth on your bruise for around 15 minutes.
- Repeat several times each day until the bruise has healed.
9) St John’s Wort
St.John’s wort is another famous herbal remedy with a range of therapeutic qualities. It has excellent, natural anti-inflammatory actions which can help reduce swelling and treat a bruise. It also has some minor analgesic qualities which help relieve pain.
- Simply apply some oil of St. John’s wort to the bruise two or three times each day.
10) Essential Oils
Good old essential oils have a myriad of health benefits so you will not be surprised to know that they can be used to treat and heal bruised skin. A number of these essential oils have well researched anti-inflammatory properties. They can also help improve circulation and disperse the pooling of blood beneath the skin.
- Dilute 4 or 5 drops of your chosen essential oil or oils with a carrier oil like coconut or avocado oil.
- Massage the mixture into your bruise several times a day until your bruise has healed.
For a detailed review of the best essential oils to treat bruises and how to use them, click on this link.