treating a bruise

How to best care for a bruise?

Written by: WellCome Care Editorial Team

In a Nutshell

  • Bruises are seen as blue, red or purple patches on the skin that result from the rupture and leakage of small blood capillaries underneath
  • The discoloration seen in bruising is cause by the leakage of fluid into the soft tissues
  • Bruises can be managed at home using cold compression and OTC painkillers

Bruises are very common in all age groups and in most cases, their treatment and management is relatively easy. They can result from trauma, falls, accidents, and even certain illnesses that may not be related to injury.

It is important to remember that whether they are big or small, bruises indicate internet bleeding and must therefore be cared for accordingly. It is also not necessary that they will always appear that they will appear at the exact site of trauma.

Despite the fact that they can affect just about anyone anywhere, bruises are most commonly seen in toddlers and elderly women. They are also more pronounced in individuals who frequently take aspirins or blood thinning agents for medical conditions.

Small sized bruises are easier to manage and with proper care, are likely to disappear within ten days. However, larger, more painful bruises are ones that demand more care and special attention. This is because large sized bruises that are very tender to touch may indicate:

  • Fractured bones
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Uncontrolled internal bleeding

It is for this reason that active monitoring of all large sized bruises is critical. If you have been in an accident, or have experienced a serious injury or trauma, do not attempt to care for your bruise at home. It must be evaluated by professionals to check for any soft tissues, bone or organ damage before proceeding with the treatment.

Small-sized bruises on the other hand can be treated at home. With proper care, their symptoms can be resolved in a week.


For relatively small to average sized bruises, basic first-aid practices can be followed at home:

  1. Wash, clean and dry your hands before attempting to treat a bruise
  2. Use cold compression (ice packs, ice rolled into towels, or a bag of frozen vegetables) and apply it to the bruise to control internal bleeding, and to prevent inflammation
  3. Do not apply ice to the bruise directly, it may cause pain
  4. Apply cold compression to the bruise for at least 30-60 minutes per day, and multiple times during the day if possible, for better healing
  5. Take painkillers (OTC Paracetamol or Acetaminophen) to relieve any discomfort
  6. If the bruise is located on an extremity, such as legs or arms, keep it in an elevated position to limit blood flow to the site of injury
  7. Avoid using bruised limb for strenuous activities
  8. If the bruise does not disappear after 10-14 days, or if the pain keeps getting worse, seek professional medical attention or make an appointment with your GP.


Bruises aren’t only caused by injury or accidents. There are a few medical conditions that can cause bruising all over the body. This is why it is imperative to remember that home-based first aid may not always work in making bruises disappear.

While cold compression and painkillers may work in most cases, it is important to keep evaluating the symptoms and seek medical attention if they seem to be getting worse.


Ice packs and analgesics can help significantly diminish the appearance and pain of a bruise in 7-10 days.


  1. Skinsight - How to treat bruises
  2. NHS - Bruises, First Aid
  3. American Family Physician - Clinical Evaluation of Bleeding and Bruising
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