What are Bruises?
When skin becomes discolored due to a common skin injury, we refer to it as a bruise. When we bump ourselves against a hard surface, (or when something bumps into us) the pressure of tissues against bone bursts tiny blood vessels under the skin.
These damaged vessels leak blood into the surrounding tissue, collecting near the surface of the skin – giving the appearance of a black or blue mark. As bruises go through the process of healing they often turn colors, including purplish black, reddish blue or yellowish green (this is due to hemoglobin – an iron-containing substance that carries oxygen in the blood).
What Causes Bruises?
Bruises can occur in people who exercise rigorously as a result from microscopic tears in blood vessels under the skin. Unexplained bruises (that occur regularly or for no apparent reason) may indicate a bleeding disorder, especially if the bruises are accompanied by frequent nosebleeds or bleeding gums.
Often, what are thought to be ‘unexplained’ bruises may be as a result of bumping into a bedpost or other object and failing to remember the injury. Also, due to the common process of aging our skin becomes thinner and the tissues that support the underlying blood vessels become more fragile – which explains why elderly individuals tend to bruise easily. A bruise is commonly tender and sometimes even painful for the first few days, but the pain usually goes away as the color fades.
Most bruises are not a cause for concern and will go away on their own. Home treatment may speed healing and relieve the swelling and soreness. Severe bruises, swelling and pain that begin within 30 minutes of an injury may indicate a sprain or fracture. The good news is that because the skin is not broken in a bruise (as with an abrasions or cuts) there is no risk of infection.
Bruises may take a long time to heal. Seek medical advice if:
- The bruise is accompanied by swelling and extreme pain, (especially if you take a blood-thinning medication for a medical condition)
- Bruises occurs easily and often or for no apparent reason
- The bruise is painful and under a toenail or fingernail
- A bruise does not improve within 2 weeks or fails to completely clear after 3 or 4 weeks
- You think you have a broken bone along with the bruise
- A bruise is getting more painful
- You can’t move a joint
- The bruise is near your eye
Help for Bruises
Many herbal and homeopathic remedies have been formulated with specific ingredients to encourage healing and recovery in damaged tissues and broken blood vessels. Arnica is a highly respected ingredient in homeopathic medicine and has powerful anti-inflammatory used extensively to treat shock, injury and assist with post-operative bruises.
Filipendula almaria, Magnesium phosphoricum, Symphytum officinale and Matricaria recutita are well known natural ingredients that use Mother Nature’s helping hand to effectively heal bruises from the inside out addressing underlying problems associated with bruises – helping to strengthen tissues and rebuild cellular and vessel strength below the skin. Furthermore, natural remedies do not carry the risk of side effects that conventional drugs do (such as aspirin) and herbal ingredients can help to soothe pain and lessen inflammation.
More Information on Bruises
Tips to help bruises heal
- Apply something cold to the area when you first get a bruise – this helps reduce its size by slowing down the blood that’s flowing to the area, which decreases the amount of blood that ends up leaking into the tissues (Ice in a bag or frozen peas do the trick!).
- Elevate the bruised area above the level of your heart (if the bruise is on your shin, lie down on a couch or bed and prop up your leg) – through circulation against gravity, this slows the flow of red blood cells to the bruise.
- Avoid aspirin. Aspirin slows the blood from clotting and may, in fact, prolong the bleeding under the skin.
- After 48 hours, heat a warm washcloth and apply it to the bruise for 10 minutes or so 2 or 3 times a day to increase blood flow to the bruised area allowing the skin to reabsorb the blood more quickly.
Tips for preventing bruises
- Wear protective gear if you’re playing sports, riding your bike, in-line skating, or doing anything where you might bump, bang, crash, or smash into something. Shin guards, and helmets might save you from a couple of weeks of aches and pains or worse!
- Place furniture away from doorways and common walking paths within your home that you might bump into.
- Keep phone and electrical cords away from open areas where you may trip and fall. Children’s toys are also major culprits in causing spills and falls, so keep floors free of clutter.
- Be sure floors are kept dry and that rugs are slip resistant. Always place a slip resistant mat outside of your shower or tub.
- Plug in a small night-light or use a flashlight if you need to walk to the bathroom during the night.
Addressing domestic/physical abuse
Bruises that do not appear to be caused by an accidental injury may be caused by physical abuse. If the cause of the bruises cannot be determined (or if the explanations change or do not match the injury) report this type of bruises and seek help to prevent further abuse. If you are suffering with bruising at the hand of someone else, only you can stop the cycle of abuse. Consider meeting with a councilor who can advise you on the best way to remove yourself from the situation.
National Domestic Violence Hotline: