Caring for a hematoma lump at home
The treatment of a hematoma lump depends on the severity of its symptoms, extent, location, and duration.
Though a milder bruise or small hematoma usually goes away on its own, you can hasten the healing by taking the following steps in the first 24 to 48 hours:
- Rest (R): Allow the affected part to rest or be immobile for some time until the pain goes away. Minimize the use of the affected limb as much as you can. If there is a dislocation or fracture, your doctor may apply a splint or plaster to immobilize it.
- Ice (I): Apply ice packs every one to two hours for about 15 to 20 minutes. You can create your own cold pack by putting ice cubes in a plastic bag or a frozen bag of peas in a thin towel.
- Compression (C): Gently compress the injured area with an elastic bandage to minimize the swelling.
- Elevation (E): Elevate the area at a level higher than your heart to minimize swelling and ease discomfort.
For pain relief, you can take over-the-counter pain medication, such as acetaminophen. Avoid taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen or naproxen, because they can increase the chances of bleeding from the injured area.
Treatment of larger or internal hematomas
Larger or internal hematomas may require more urgent and invasive medical treatments. For example, hematoma that is formed in the skull, such as subdural hematoma, requires creating a hole in the skull to drain the trapped blood.
In some instances, severe cases may require a craniotomy, which involves the temporary removal of a piece of skull bone to remove the trapped blood. For small skull hematomas, your doctor may just advise bed rest and observation.
What causes hematoma?
A hematoma lump gets formed when a force, usually blunt force, injures the large blood vessels of the body and causes the pooling of blood in the injured area. It can develop in a muscle or around an internal organ.
These lumps can form in places, including:
- Beneath the skin
- On the scalp
- Under a toenail or fingernail
You can develop hematomas due to:
What increases your risk of developing a hematoma lump?
Not everyone ends up developing a hematoma lump.
Certain factors that may increase the risk of developing a hematoma lump include:
- Older age
- Bleeding disorders (such as hemophilia)
- Thrombocytopenia (low platelet count)
- Liver disease
- Severe viral infection
- Alcohol abuse
- Nutritional deficiency
- Leukemia (blood cancer)
- Certain medications
- Blood thinners (such as heparin and warfarin)
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (such as aspirin and ibuprofen)
- Steroids (such as prednisone)
- Certain antibiotics (such as penicillin)
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How is a hematoma lump diagnosed?
Your doctor can diagnose a hematoma lump just by looking at it.
If they suspect a bone fracture in the injured area, they may order X-rays to confirm the fracture. In case of injuries of the head, they may ask for a computed tomography scan or magnetic resonance imaging of the head to check for problems, such as subdural hematoma or skull fracture.
When to contact the doctor for a hematoma lump
A simple or a small hematoma can be treated with home remedies. However, some signs and symptoms necessitate getting urgent medical help.
Call your healthcare provider right away if you see or experience signs and symptoms that include:
- Redness around the hematoma lump
- Increase in pain or warmth in the hematoma lump
- Increase in size of the hematoma lump
- Fever of 100.4°F or higher
If the hematoma lump is on the arm or leg, watch for increased swelling, pain, numbness or tingling, or bluish discoloration in or near the injured area. These are usually signs of fracture or pressure on adjacent nerves or large blood vessels.
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Neutze D, Roque J. Clinical evaluation of bleeding and bruising in primary care. Am Fam Physician. 2016;93(4):279-286. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26926815/
Cleveland Clinic. Subdural Hematoma. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/21183-subdural-hematoma#outlook--prognosis
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