Nobody likes to get a bruise, and yet they happened often. Some people more frequently than others. For instance, the accident-prone who lose their balance and bump into things, a person who engages in contact sports, a toddler who is just learning to walk, or a person getting into scrapes with the neighbor’s cat.
A bruise may result after trauma to the skin, wearing very tight clothing, or even vigorous exercise. It is characterized by pain, swelling, and discoloration of the skin. This discoloration is caused when blood vessels under the skin get broken. Initially, the skin discoloration is reddish but then after a day or two, it changes from purple to blue or black.
Most bruises are minor and heal quickly, while some may necessitate a visit to the doctors. There are several ways to care for a bruise by yourself.
Below are 5 tips on how to treat bruises at home.
1. Cold compress
Immediately after an injury, you should apply an ice pack wrapped in a soft towel or cloth at 10 minutes intervals, several times during the day. The cold temperature causes blood vessels to contract and slows blood from leaking out under the skin and thus reducing the size of the bruise. It also reduces the redness and swelling associated with bruising.
Please DO NOT apply ice directly to your skin as it can cause frostbite.
2. Pain relief
Bruises are often associated with some pain and discomfort. You can take over-the-counter pain medications such as acetaminophen (paracetamol) to lessen pain. You can also wrap the bruised area with an elastic bandage, this also lessens the pain and swelling.
If you get bruised during a sport activity or a gym session, it would be a good idea to stop and take a breather. This stops the bruise from getting worse by slowing down blood flow to the area. Don’t be tempted to massage the bruised site as this may cause further injuries around the area and worsen it.
4. Elevate the limb
Raising the bruised area above the level of your heart slows the pooling of blood and reduces the size of the bruise. The action of elevating above the level of the heart sends blood flow back to the heart.
5. Heat therapy
After a few days, when the swelling and skin discoloration reduces, you can apply gentle heat to the area. This helps the body reabsorb the blood more and the bruise will fade and normal activities can be recommenced gradually.
Bruises heal completely anywhere from two to three weeks. For those into sports, remember to always wear protective clothing to reduce the frequency of developing bruises.
The bottom line is, no matter how careful you are, you will still get a bruise from time to time. However, if you notice a bruise that happens on its own without a traumatic experience, it would be wise to visit your doctor. There could be an inherent health condition such as a blood disease or a bleeding disorder.