How to Reduce Bruising Quickly

Dr. James - Orthopaedic Surgeon in Singapore

Medically reviewed by Dr. James Tan

While bruising is a natural part of the healing process, it can be uncomfortable and frustrating. This is especially true when you have a bright black and blue mark in an all-too-visible location. Fortunately, with a few tricks, you can reduce bruising from the moment of impact and heal faster. 

If you are looking to speed up bruise healing, there are a few things that you should know about home treatment.  Here are a few essential tips from a healthcare professional that will speed up the healing of your bruise.

What Is Bruising?

The small blood vessels underneath your skin can break easily if you take a hard blow to your skin. This causes a discolouration that we commonly refer to as a bruise. This black-and-blue mark on your skin is a telltale sign of injury and will typically last for a couple of weeks.

As the bruise heals, the colour will slowly change. During the healing process, you will typically have to deal with a bit of pain and swelling as well. With proper at-home bruise treatment, however, you can heal bruises quickly and feel better as quickly as possible.

How to Reduce Bruising

To help you reduce blood vessel damage and promote healing, let’s look at the most effective ways to reduce bruising.

  • Ice your bruise: As soon as possible, grab the ice. Put an ice pack or cold compress on the bruised area and leave it there for ten to 20 minutes. This will help to reduce swelling, limit bruising, and help to constrict blood vessels. If you opt for an ice pack, be sure not to put the ice directly on your skin. Wrap it up in a cloth to prevent frostbite. This method also works well if you experience an ankle sprain.
  • Elevate the bruise: Try to elevate the bruised area as much as possible. Your goal is to have the bruise raised above the level of your heart. This will reduce swelling by reducing blood flow to the injury.
  • Use compression: To reduce bleeding and swelling, use a compression bandage or wrap. Be sure not to wrap it too loosely or it won’t help. Make it as tight as possible without causing discomfort. Your goal is to fully support the area without cutting off the circulation.
  • Massage the area: After 48 hours, you can gently massage the bruised area. Just use your finger to massage and be mindful of any pain responses that your body sends you. While massaging a bruise can be helpful, it’s important not to massage too forcefully because it could cause additional damage. A gentle massage will help to boost the blood flow and speed up the healing process.
  • Rest and protect the area: Avoid doing anything that could strain the injured spot and generally just try to rest as much as possible.
  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle: Eat a balanced diet, drink plenty of water, and get enough sleep. Improving the overall health of your skin will not only speed up the healing process but also relieve your body from aches and pain. Your body is able to heal and perform at its best when you are feeling your best. Keep in mind that a good posture also has multiple benefits and one of them is preventing kyphoscoliosis.

Note: While these steps will help you heal bruises faster, they are not enough for more serious injuries. If you are experiencing intense pain or severe swelling, it is essential to see a doctor as soon as possible and consider treatment options like PRP treatment.

What Causes Bruises?

A bruise, also known as a contusion, is caused by damage to the blood vessels located just under the surface of your skin. When you have an injury (which can follow any kind of blow, bump, or fall) your skin is affected. This impact can rupture your small blood vessels, which in turn causes bleeding into the surrounding tissues. Shoulder injuries and wrist injuries often cause this. After this trauma, you will see that characteristic discolouration of the skin.

While bumping into something or being hit by something is one of the most common causes of injury, there are a few different factors to consider. Here are some of the common causes of bruising:

  • Trauma: Accidents like falls, collisions, and sports-related impacts can all cause bruising. The severity of the bruise depends on the strength of the impact and the location of the injury.
  • Medication: When you are taking blood thinners or antiplatelet drugs, like aspirin or warfarin, you are more prone to bruising. As a side effect, these kinds of medications prevent your blood from clotting properly, which increases your risk of bleeding and blood vessel damage (and therefore bruising).
  • Age: As you get older, your skin gets thinner and is less able to bounce back. This natural ageing process causes blood vessels to be more brittle and increases your odds of vessel rupturing and therefore bruising.
  • Medical conditions: Some medical conditions can make bruising more likely. If you have a bleeding disorder like haemophilia, von Willebrand disease, or problems with blood clotting their blood, you’re more likely to deal with bruising. Likewise, if you have vasculitis or Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, your odds of getting bruised are increased.
  • Nutritional deficiencies: When you’re getting a lack of certain vitamins and minerals, especially iron, vitamin C, or vitamin K, it can weaken your blood vessels and make it more difficult for blood to clot. This makes you more susceptible to bruising.
  • Genetics: Some people are simply predisposed to bruise more easily. It is something that is influenced by your genetics. If you are one of these people, it may be that you have blood vessels that are more brittle or prone to rupture, which can cause even minor injuries to result in obvious bruising.

If you suddenly find that you are bruising more easily, talk to a doctor. While occasional bruising is normal, it is worth taking to a healthcare professional if you notice your body changing, and maybe consider an x-ray. Sometimes, bruising can be a sign of more serious injuries such as shoulder dislocation, ACL tears or other knee injuries.

In the meantime, you might want to check out our ACL tear treatment page.

How Does Bruise Healing Work?

Your body works to naturally heal bruises. As soon as you are injured, your body begins the healing process.

  1. Instant reaction: When you’re bruised, your body immediately goes to work. Platelets, which are tiny blood cells involved in clotting, gather together at the point of injury. They go into one spot to form a plug and help stop the bleeding. Blood vessels in the injured area constrict to reduce bleeding.
  1. Inflammation: A few hours after the injury, your body starts to produce inflammation. Your white blood cells and other inflammatory cells travel to the point of the injury to clear away the damaged tissue. From the outside, you’ll experience this process as a painful and warm reaction that creates a swollen appearance.
  1. Blood vessel repair: In the days following the injury, the gaps in your injured blood vessel are gradually filled in by new blood vessels that start to grow in a process called angiogenesis.
  1. Waste products: Your body will continually eliminate the byproducts of bruising like tissue fragments and disintegrated blood cells. Your white blood cells (called macrophages) surround these byproducts and help remove them.
  1. Collagen production: In the process of tissue repair and regeneration, collagen works to strengthen and rebuild the damaged tissue. Your body creates these new collagen fibres to restore the structure of the injured spot.
  1. Colour changes: Your bruise’s colour will change during recovery. With blood near your skin’s surface, the bruise will first have a red or purple colour. As your body processes and eliminates the breakdown products of blood, your bruise will often turn blue, green, yellow, or brown.
  1. Healing: As your body finishes the healing process, the bruise will slowly disappear. How long it takes for a bruise to heal can vary depending on the injury’s severity, your unique capacity for healing, and the bruise’s location. Generally speaking, bruises usually disappear in two to three weeks.

If you frequently do sports such as F45, HIIT, pilates, and yoga, you might be more prone to bruises. It’s essential to keep in mind that you should see a doctor for a proper evaluation and advice if you have any concerns about a bruise or unsure if it’s a serious injury. If anything seems unusual about the size, duration, or accompanying symptoms, or if you bruise easily without any known cause, it is worth checking on.

How Long Does It Take for Bruises to Fade?

The severity of the bruise, your ability to heal, and the location of the bruise will determine how long it takes for a bruise to go away. Usually, bruises on the upper torso and face heal faster, as compared to bruises on the knees and elbows. Bruises normally change colour several times as they heal, and this process can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. If the bruise does not seem to be going down, there might be some underlying condition like shoulder rotator cuff tears or a torn meniscus. Here is a timeline of the general colour changes in bruises:

  1. Red or purple: Since blood is close to your skin’s surface, a new bruise will usually start as red or purple. These colours are usually visible right away after the injury, and this colour can linger for a day or two.
  1. Blue or dark purple: While the bruise may first appear red, as the blood spreads and pools beneath the skin, it will likely turn to a blue or dark purple colour. Within a day or two of the injury, this colour is frequently noticed, and it can last for several days.
  1. Green: A bruise will often turn green as it ages and heals more fully. The haemoglobin pigment, which is responsible for moving oxygen in red blood cells, is broken down during the healing process and this creates the colour change. The colouration usually turns green between the fourth and sixth day after the injury. This green colour will stick around for a few days in most cases.
  1. Yellow: As your body eliminates the blood’s breakdown products, the bruise may turn yellow. This yellowing will last for a few days and is usually seen about one to two weeks after the injury.
  1. Brown: Finally, the bruise may lighten to a brown tone before fully disappearing. The brownish discolouration is a sign that the healing process is almost finished. The brown tone typically lasts a few days to a week but can last longer or shorter.

Is My Bruise an Emergency?

If you have any concerns about the healing process or the severity of your bruise, it is time to talk to a doctor. Our team of experts can access your situation and check for any underlying issues.

Here at Ray of Health, we also offer sports injury treatment, shoulder pain treatment and knee pain therapy. Want to reduce bruising and get on the path to healing? Talk to our orthopaedic doctors today.

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Dr. James - Orthopaedic Surgeon in Singapore

About the Author

Dr James Tan is a highly skilled orthopaedic surgeon who has more than 10 years of experience in sports surgery and exercise medicine. He is a member of the elite Asian Shoulder and Elbow Group and a founding member of the Singapore Shoulder and Elbow Surgery Society.

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