Summary List Placement
Bruises are unsightly but will typically fade in two to three weeks, depending on the size and severity of the bruise.
But if you’re in a hurry to get rid of those blotchy, purple spots sooner, here are five remedies that can speed up the healing process.
Ice is one of the most commonly used, tried and true remedies for bruises and other injuries.
When you get a bruise, it damages your blood vessels and causes the blood to leak out. The blood gets trapped in the surrounding soft tissues, giving skin a blotchy, purple appearance, says Angelo Marino, DO, vascular and interventional radiologist at Yale Medicine.
“Ice or anything frozen placed over the site of injury works by decreasing the amount of inflammation and swelling in the area. It also constricts the tiny blood vessels in the surrounding tissues, thereby decreasing the amount of blood that leaks out,” says Marino.
How to use it:
It’s best to take action as soon as possible after the injury. Marino says you should apply an ice pack or something else cold like a bag of frozen peas over the area immediately after the injury, and then again throughout the first 24 to 48 hours after.
You can ice the area for 15 minutes at a time, and then wait about 15 to 20 minutes before reapplying the ice. Marino says you can do this several times throughout the day. Just be sure to wrap the ice in a cloth or paper towel to protect your skin from cold temperatures.
On the opposite side of the spectrum, heat can also help clear up a bruise. Marino says heat works by increasing blood flow to the bruised area, which can help your body break up and reabsorb the trapped blood.
How to use it:
According to Mariano, it’s best to avoid heat at first. Instead, you should opt for remedies like ice to decrease inflammation.
But after 48 hours, you can apply a heating pad or warm towel to the bruised area for about 10 to 15 minutes. Marino says it should be warm, but not to the point where it is uncomfortable to have on your skin. You can repeat this several times throughout the day.
When you put pressure on an injured area, it can decrease swelling and prevent the injured blood vessels from leaking, which reduces the severity of the bruise, Marino says.
How to use it:
Use an elastic bandage to firmly wrap the bruised region. The bandage should be tight, but not so tight that it causes discomfort, says Marino.
Compression should be used in the first 24-48 hours as that is when it is most beneficial in decreasing swelling and pain, Marino says, and it’s best to combine elevation and compression when possible.
If you can manage to elevate your bruise, gravity will pull the blood down, away from the wound, which can reduce the amount of blood that leaks out thereby minimizing any swelling and black-and-blue splotching.
How to do it:
Marino says it’s best to elevate the injured area above the level of your heart when possible. For example, if your ankle is bruised, try lying flat on your back with your foot propped up on a few pillows to use gravity to your advantage. However, depending on the body part, this method may not always be possible.
For centuries, a herb called arnica has been used for medicinal purposes, says Marino. In his own practice Marino says his patients have reported that arnica has helped bruising clear up faster.
Furthermore, a 2010 study found that participants who applied 20% arnica ointment — topically — twice a day for two weeks helped reduce bruising, compared to a control group using a placebo.
How to use it:
Apply a thin layer of arnica cream or gel to the bruised area. You can purchase this over the counter at drug stores. Massage it over the area up to three times a day, Marino says.
Bruises can be a pain –– literally and figuratively –– but home remedies like applying a cold compress or elevating the wound can help speed up the healing process and get your skin looking clear again.
For the best results, try a combination of the five techniques discussed in this article. Marino says it can take up to three weeks for a bruise to fully go away, so be patient as it heals, but these tips should help speed things up.
“Every patient and injury is different and responses to the remedies are also variable. In general, following these recommendations should help the bruise heal quicker,” says Marino.
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