Bruises are dark blue or purplish marks that sometimes appear when you cause an injury to your skin. Most bruises happen due to an accidental injury that ruptures small blood vessels underneath the skin called capillaries. They release blood that is trapped under the skin, causing what initially appears as a black-and-blue mark on your skin.
They are not only caused by injuries, they can also be caused by extreme muscle strain or from taking certain medications, especially blood-thinning medications. Bruises are often seen in the elderly because as we age, the skin begins to thin, and we lose the protective fatty layer that helps cushion blood vessels from injury.
Bruises typically begin as purplish or bluish and, as they heal, turn a yellow-green color, usually around the two week mark. Often, the bruises will be accompanied by swelling and pain. To ease the pain of bruises, some people take over-the-counter painkillers. But, there are natural ways to relieve painful bruises.
Most bruises heal within two to four weeks. And for bruises that last beyond this four-week mark, you will want to seek medical attention.
There are many home remedies to decrease inflammation, reduce pain and help you to get rid of bruises faster. You might have many of these remedies such as tea bags and aloe vera right at your fingertips. The following is a list of natural treatments for bruises that are backed by scientific evidence.
Interval Cold and Heat Therapy
Applying cold pack and then heat pack is an effective way to ease the pain of bruises, reduce swelling, and help bruises (as well as a black eye) heal faster. Start with cold therapy and after a couple of days use a warm compress to improve the blood circulation around the bruise to encourage the healing process.
Cold Pack Comes First
Within the first 24 to 48 hours of injury, wrap ice in a cloth or towel and apply the cold pack to the injury or the bruised area. Hold it over the bruised area for around 10 minutes. Ice helps to soothe your painful bruise by numbing it and it can also prevent the bruise from darkening. Do not place ice directly on the skin and always wrap it with a cloth or a towel.
Use Heat Pack After 48 Hours
After 48 hours of cold therapy, you may begin using the heat pack. For example, you can use warm moist cloth to reduce inflammation, ease pain, improve blood circulation and help the bruise to heal more quickly. The warmth of the heat pack also helps to increase flexibility, decrease muscle spasms, and relieve pain in the bruised area. Remember, moist, not dry heat, works best for treating bruises. For more information, read my article on how to use heat and cold therapies.
Heat therapy is not recommended for diabetics or people with poor circulation in general.
Arnica (Arnica Montana)
Arnica is a proven natural remedy for bruises and wounds after surgeries. It is a flowering plant with leaves that is very popular in traditional medicine and is often the go to treatment for muscle aches, skin injuries, muscle spasms, and arthritis.5 What makes arnica good for skin injuries is that this powerful herb contains sesquiterpene lactones, which are known to reduce inflammation and decrease pain.
Arnica can be applied topically on the bruise from the many salves, creams, and liniments that are made from its leaves. Arnica lotions and creams are widely available at many health stores and pharmacies.
Warning: You should not ingest arnica or use it on open wounds.
Black tea bags, specifically, can be used to make a bruise fade more quickly. Tea contains tannins that help constrict blood vessels that help speed up the healing of bruises. To treat bruises with tea bags, apply warm, wet black tea bag to the bruise a few times a Day. There are many other things that you can do with your used tea bags.
Vitamin K Cream
Vitamin K, when used topically, can be a powerful healer of bruises, scars, stretch marks, and burns. Vitamin K cream or ointment is often used by doctors to treat post-surgery patients and to speed up wound healing, and to reduce bruising and swelling.
Like Arnica, vitamin K aids in blood coagulation, so it is effective in wound healing, especially in helping to heal the burst capillaries that cause bruises.
Dr. N. Shah at the University of Miami school of medicine notes that vitamin K cream is particularly useful to “reduce the severity of bruising, particularly in the initial days of application.”
Vitamin K cream is often used to remove spider veins and to treat rosacea as well.
Good topical vitamin K creams are available online and at pharmacies.
Comfrey contains powerful components that reduce inflammation, help keep skin healthy and can help to speed up the healing process of bruises.
Comfrey is a shrub native to Europe and Asia and has roots and leaves that contain a substance called allantoin, which helps skin cells grow. Consequently, comfrey has become a popular herb for healing wounds.
The journal Fortschr Med Orig reports that comfrey is a powerful healing remedy for wounds, muscle tears, sprains, fractures, and bruises. In a study where 162 participants applied comfrey topically one to three times daily, significant improvements were shown in the healing of bruises and easing of the pain and inflammation that accompany them as well.
You can make a comfrey cream at home or buy comfrey salve at your local health and wellness stores and pharmacies.
Chamomile Essential Oil
Traditionally, chamomile has been used for centuries as an anti-inflammatory and as a natural remedy for wounds and bruises.
Chamomile oil is today considered a kind of “wonder essential oil” in science, capable of healing wounds faster than corticosteroids and reducing scars, healing wounds, and healing bruises fast as well. Chamomile oil is also one of the best essential oils for skincare.
In a fascinating article titled “Chamomile: An Herbal Medicine of the Past With a Bright Future,” the researchers tout the power of chamomile not only as a healer of bruises and other wounds but also as a powerful sleep aid, a natural anti-anxiety agent, and a powerful anti-inflammatory agent – along with boasting around 20 other medical benefits.
To use chamomile oil to make bruises go away faster, mix several drops of chamomile oil with a tablespoon of a carrier oil such as almond or coconut oil. Rub this remedy directly onto the injury, every day, one to three times a day until the bruise is completely gone. Alternatively you can use chamomile tea bags to treat the bruise.
Helichrysum Essential Oil
Helichrysum (Helichrysum italicum) is an essential oil that has been traditionally used as a powerful home remedy for bruises, wounds, swelling and inflammation. Helichrysum oil is becoming so acclaimed for its powers of wound treatment, it is often referred to as the “super arnica of aromatherapy.” Helichrysum essential oil also exhibits powerful anti-microbial, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity.
Helichrysum oil contains chemical components called italidiones that have remarkable anti-hematoma (anti-bruise) properties, enabling it to keep blood inside of a blood vessel after injury to a particular area. This is why this particular oil is well known for being an excellent remedy for helping to reduce bruising faster and can be used topically for them.
You can apply a few drops of Helichrysum oil mixed with a tablespoon of carrier oil such as coconut oil or jojoba oil directly to the bruise and gently rub it in with your finger tips. This is most effective when applied after 20 minutes of cold therapy.
Helichrysum oil is also one of the top 16 essential oils to relieve pain and inflammation.
Aloe Vera has been used for thousands of years to help with the healing of wound, burns and bruises.
The journal of Indian Society of Periodontology reports that aloe vera has been proven to be powerful for myriad ailments from skin infections, to reducing the inflammation of hemorrhoids, to insect bites, relieving the pain of arthritis, and for healing bruises.
Some individuals apply the fleshy inner part of the aloe vera plant directly onto the skin and some people prefer using aloe vera gel. Either way, aloe vera not only helps to heal bruises faster, it will also help you relieve the swelling and pain, with its cooling, soothing properties.
Leeches are making a comeback in modern medicine and they can be used to help decrease bruising and get rid of them quicker.
In 2004, doctors rediscovered the power of leeches in healing, when they learned that leech saliva contains hirudin, a potent anticoagulant. Hirudin also acts as a powerful antibacterial and bacteriostatic agent.
The Leech saliva also contains other healing compounds as well anesthetics, and analgesics, all of which aid in the healing process. Consequently, leech therapy is becoming popular for treating bruises, wounds, and other injuries to the skin.
What makes leeches powerful for healing bruises is that leeches can remove stagnant blood from bruises and release therapeutic hirudin directly into the bruise or lesion. Leeches not only absorb the stagnant blood, they also contribute to restoring normal blood flow, helping to increase circulation to the area around the bruise.
When to See a Doctor
Most bruises are not a major medical concern. They will heal on their own. However, when the bruises are accompanied with extreme pain and swelling that begins around 30 minutes after the injury, you should go to a hospital immediately, as these are signs of a sprain, fracture, or broken bone.