Treatment for Bruises

The vast majority of bruises occurs secondary to trauma, banging your leg on a piece of furniture, being hit or falling down. This causes a breakage of blood vessels under the skin and subsequently the black and blue mark that is seen. For this article we will address first aid treatment for basic bruises.

Bruising without associated trauma should be assessed by a healthcare provider as it could be an indicator for possible bleeding or other underlying metabolic disorder.

After the initial trauma, icing is helpful as it constricts blood vessels, reduces swelling and can have a soothing effect. After that, wet warmth is very effective in helping the body reabsorb the bruised area. No heating pads, as this healthcare provider has seen individuals get burnt by leaving heating pads on too long.

It is a myth that bruises from trauma are blood clots that are going to go to your heart or lungs and cause serious problems. These are not the types of clots that one reads about that cause permanent pulmonary emboli. That is deep venous thrombosis, which one is not able to visualize. Superficial bruising of the skin does not cause life-threatening blood clots.

Another important fact that needs mentioning is that when you sprain an ankle or knee, in a few days you will find bruising down by the foot or down below the injured area. This is due to gravity; blood pools in the muscular compartments and gravity pulls the blood down to the lower areas of the body. Frequently individuals will come in concerned that they sprained their ankle and now their foot is black and blue!

In severe cases of trauma or bruising, there are situations called compartment syndrome. These are medical emergencies, where the pooling of blood is either so intense and the volume so great that it compromises neurological and vascular function. If the areas distal to the bruise, toes, hands or fingers, become cold or numb, you should get to a healthcare provider as soon as possible.

Do NOT take aspirin or Ibuprofen for pain as those medications will increase bleeding time, as well as the size of the bruise. It is advisable to take Acetaminophen.