How Do You Know When a Bruise Is Serious?

Medically Reviewed on 12/10/2020
A bruise may take up to 2-3 weeks to fade away
A bruise may take up to 2-3 weeks to fade away

You may need to consult a doctor when the bruise is serious. A serious bruise means:

  • The bruised area is large
  • The bruise appeared unprovoked or without any injury
  • The bruise shows no signs of healing even after a week
  • The bruise is increasing in size
  • More bruises start appearing
  • The bruise is at certain sites, such as over a joint
  • You develop other symptoms, such as fever or bleeding from any site like the mouth or nose

What is a bruise?

A bruise is a type of wound that appears when tiny blood vessels (capillaries) present under the skin get torn or ruptured. It occurs most commonly because of any blunt trauma to the body part. This may commonly occur because of a fall or a bump. The injury results in bleeding under the skin that may appear as a red, blue, or purple area. A bruise may take up to 2-3 weeks to fade away, although this may vary depending on factors, such as the size of the bruise and the body part. A bruise does not involve any external skin breaks or bleeding. Certain conditions, such as liver diseases, bleeding disorders, and some medications (such as Aspirin) may increase the risk of bruises.

How can you treat a bruise at home?

For the home management of a bruise, you may try the following:

  • Cold packs or compresses: Applying cold or ice compresses over the skin may help clear the bruise and ease the symptoms through various mechanisms, such as controlling the bleeding under the skin and reducing inflammation. It may also make the skin less painful and sensitive. You may use some ice cubes wrapped in a clean cloth and apply it over the bruise. A cold compress must be applied as soon as possible or within the first 12 hours of getting the bruise for the best results.
  • Hot packs and massage: Hot compresses can be applied after 48 to 72 hours to speed up healing. You can use a clean cloth soaked in warm water or a hot water bottle on the bruise. A heating pad or a warm towel can also be used to massage the bruise. This must be done in a way that you gently massage from the center of the bruise to outwards so that the clotted blood moves away from the injured skin. Repeat it several times a day. Make sure you don’t overdo it because it may cause burns.
  • Elevate the affected part: This may help reduce the bleeding, thus facilitating faster healing.
  • Compression bandage: Wrapping a bandage around the wounded part puts pressure and reduces further bleeding.
  • Arnica gels or creams: Applying arnica gel or cream over the skin may help clear up the bruise faster.
  • Topical vitamins: Applying Vitamin K or C topically (over the skin) may clear up the bruise faster.
  • Aloe vera gel: It is a safe and natural remedy that may help in faster healing of the bruise and reducing pain and swelling.
  • Rest: Do not irritate or trouble the affected area in a haste to get rid of the bruise. If the bruise does not get better in a few days, you get more bruises on the body, or there is severe pain or swelling, you must consult a doctor.

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Medically Reviewed on 12/10/2020
References
Cleveland Clinic. Bruises. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/15235-bruises

Cleveland Clinic. Do You Bruise Easily? When to Get It Checked Out. March 9, 2020. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/do-you-bruise-easily-when-to-get-it-checked/

Healthwise. Bruises and Blood Spots Under the Skin. https://www.mottchildren.org/health-library/bruse#aa61479