Bumps & Bruises (Contusions & Ecchymoses)

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

  • Medical Editor: John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP
    John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP

    John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP

    John P. Cunha, DO, is a U.S. board-certified Emergency Medicine Physician. Dr. Cunha's educational background includes a BS in Biology from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, and a DO from the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences in Kansas City, MO. He completed residency training in Emergency Medicine at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center in Newark, New Jersey.

First Aid Sprains & Strains Slideshow

Quick GuideCare and Pain Relief for Bumps, Bruises, Sprains, and Strains

Care and Pain Relief for Bumps, Bruises, Sprains, and Strains

What is the treatment for bruising?

There are a couple of things that you can do to prevent or minimize bruising after an injury. First, try a cold compress. Put ice in a plastic bag, wrap the bag in a towel (applying the ice directly to the skin can cause frostbite), and place it on the injured area. Commercial ice packs are also available, but a bag of frozen peas makes an excellent substitute. It molds to the shape of the injured area and can then be re-frozen and used again (but don't eat them!). The cold reduces the blood flow to the area and therefore limits bleeding into the skin and reduces the size of the bruise. The cold also decreases the inflammation in the area of the injury and limits swelling in this way as well. If possible, elevate the area above the level of the heart. The lower an extremity is below the heart, the more blood will flow to the area and increase the bleeding and swelling.

Avoid taking the medications listed above that can contribute to bruising. If you have any questions about whether or not your medication can contribute to bruising, ask your doctor or pharmacist. Do not stop any prescription medications without first contacting your doctor.

Finally, pressure applied to the area (by hand, not with tourniquets) can reduce bleeding.

People who take medicines that reduce clotting ("blood thinners") or have clotting abnormalities should seek the advice of a physician immediately, as should the elderly or those who have experienced significantly severe trauma.

What is the prognosis (outlook) for bruising?

The outlook for bruising depends on whether or not there are underlying associated medical illnesses or conditions. Bruising can otherwise be prevented by avoiding trauma to the body.

Medically reviewed by A Board Certified Family Practice Physician

REFERENCE:

Fauci, Anthony S., et al. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine. 17th ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Professional, 2008.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 10/30/2015
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