How to Treat Bruises

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Published: 17th June 2008
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Healthy people may develop bruises from any injury that doesn't break through the skin. Vigorous exercise may also cause bruises due to bringing about small tears in blood vessels walls. In a condition known as purpura simplex, there is a tendency to bruise easily due to an increased fragility of the blood vessels.

Athletes in all contact sports have many opportunities to get a muscle contusion (bruise). Contusions are second only to strains as a leading cause of sports injuries. Most contusions are minor and heal quickly, without taking the athlete needing to be removed from the game. But, severe contusions can cause deep tissue damage and can lead to complications and/or keep the athlete out of sports for months.

Symptoms of bruising vary depending on the cause of the bruising. The bruise may be very small and may blend in with the texture of the skin, or it may be large, swollen, and painful.

A bruise can sometimes be associated with a temporary raised area in the skin. When a bruise fades, it becomes green and brown as the body metabolizes the blood cells and bilirubin pigment in the skin. A bruise is best treated with local application of a cold pack immediately after injury.

Bruising is a normal body response to trauma. It is only when bruising occurs often and from very minor (often unnoticed) trauma that a problem may exist. Refer to the capillary fragility article for more information. While easy bruising is usually not a cause for concern, people who experience this problem should consult a physician to rule out more serious conditions that may cause bruising. Medical causes of easy bruising sometimes may be diagnosed from a few blood tests conducted by a doctor. More often, however, no clear cause for easy bruising is found.

Conventional Medical Treatment
Unless the bruise is especially large or is accompanied by broken skin or a raised and swollen area, medical attention is rarely necessary. Your doctor also may instruct you to elevate the injured area and ice the site for 30 to 45 minutes several times daily for 2 or 3 days after the injury. Homeopathy Arnica is excellent for bruising. Take a tablet of 6c strength every hour up to four times a day, or apply as a cream. You can also apply a cold compress of diluted mother tincture. If the bruising does not disappear quickly, take Ledum 6c three times a day for four days. (It can also be used for puncture wounds.)

While most bruises will go away naturally within two weeks of the injury there are few things that you can do to speed up treatment. For pain relief you can take aspirin, acetaminophen, or ibuprofen. For the best results follow the instructions for dosage that are listed on the label.

To help relieve pain and swelling you can apply a cold compress (a bag of frozen peas straight from the freezer works great if you first wrap it in a towel) for 20 to 30 minutes at a time. Be sure to take a break form the compress for at least 20 minutes between treatments and only apply during the first 48 hours after the injury. When the bruise is at least 48 hours old you can help the discoloration fade by applying a warm washcloth or compress to the area.

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