Treating Bruises

by April Reinhardt
(last updated September 5, 2008)

Usually caused by blunt impact, a bruise—also called a contusion—results from injury to biological tissue. The tissue's capillaries are damaged, and then blood oozes into the bordering tissues. Although bruises cause pain, they normally are not dangerous, and in light-skinned people are easily recognized by their typical purple or blue appearance.

In some instances, bruises can be serious and an indicator of a life threatening injury, such as internal bleeding. Scored on a scale from zero to five, bruises can be categorized by damage and severity, as follows:

  • 0 = no damage; light bruising
  • 1 = little damage; light bruising
  • 2 = some damage; moderate bruising
  • 3 = dangerous; serious bruising
  • 4 = dangerous; extremely serious bruising
  • 5 = risk of death; critical bruising

Depending upon the victim's age and medical condition, capillaries very in toughness, and thus the degree of bruising differs with each person. If you have light or moderate bruising, with little damage, there are a few steps you can follow at home to help care for your bruise and encourage faster healing:

  • If you are not allergic to acetaminophen, take it for pain. Do not use aspirin as a pain reliever, however, since it has anticoagulant properties that prevent blood from clotting. You want the blood associated with your bruise to clot, so that it stops spreading underneath the skin.
  • Get plenty of rest, with limited movement of the bruised area. Resting the bruise helps the blood to clot more quickly.
  • If possible, elevate the bruised area.
  • To reduce swelling, apply cold packs for twenty minutes at a time every day after the injury until you notice the bruise changing from purple to green and then yellow.
  • Use an elastic bandage to wrap the bruise if possible. The pressure of the bandage helps reduce blood flow underneath the skin.

There are instances when bruising is dangerous, such as after a fall down the stairs, a traffic accident, falling from a building or ladder, or after suffering trauma from a fight or beating. Bruises also sometimes appear when there is no trauma involved, indicating a more serious medical condition. In those instances, bruises may need immediate medical attention. Normal bruises change from purple to green to yellow within three weeks. If it lasts longer, see a doctor. If you notice the bruise becoming more firm, it may have grown into a hematoma and may require a doctor to drain it. If you develop a bruise around your navel with no trauma involved, it may be an indicator of internal bleeding. Seek medical advice immediately.

Author Bio

April Reinhardt

An admin­istrator for a mutual fund man­age­ment firm, April deals with the writ­ten word daily. She loves to write and plans to author a memoir in the near future. April attend­ed More­head State Uni­ver­sity to pursue a BA degree in Ele­men­tary Edu­ca­tion. ...

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