In the hustle and bustle of today’s fast-paced society, it’s inevitable to bump into things. Have you ever banged your knee on the door jam taking a corner too fast? Maybe you’ve tripped over a pair of shoes during a midnight bathroom trip or knocked your arm on the side of your car door trying to grab the groceries. Bumps, falls, and knocks happen to the best of us, and many times they lead to unsightly bruises.
Bruising is a normal response to any injury. Even the smallest impact can leave behind a horrible looking bruise. While bruises usually go away on their own, there are several steps you can take to lessen the pain and reduce visibility. Let’s take a closer look at how to get rid of bruises and when to see a doctor.
What Is a Bruise?
You’ve most likely been bruised a few times in your life. Whether it’s from learning how to walk, gym class, playing a sport, or just being clumsy, bruises are common in every phase of life. That’s because they occur from tiny blood vessels beneath the skin that can be easily damaged by even the smallest injury.
When you sustain an injury, those tiny blood vessels burst and bleed. When there’s no visible cut or break in the skin, the blood remains trapped beneath the skin’s surface, causing a bruise.
As your injury heals, the blood is eventually reabsorbed by the body. In the meantime, you’re left with a gray, bluish, or purple patch where the injury occurred. Over its life-cycle, your bruise may change different colors as it heals. Bruises can also be very tender to the touch.
What Causes a Bruise? Are There Different Types of Bruises?
Almost all bruises are a result of physical injury. The most common causes of bruises are:
- Sports injuries
- Head injuries
- Muscle sprains
- Blunt Force Trauma
- Certain medications, especially blood thinners
- Rigorous exercise
- Bleeding disorders
- Vitamin deficiencies
- Certain medical conditions, such as leukemia, hemophilia, iron-deficiency anemia, and liver disease
Bruises are divided into three different types. This includes:
- Subcutaneous bruises– bruises that appear just beneath the skin.
- Intramuscular bruises– bruises that occur in underlying muscles
- Periosteal bruises– bruises that occur on the bones.
Most bruises disappear entirely after a couple of weeks. Still, some will take longer to heal based on the severity of the damage.
Most bruises go through four stages of discoloration during the healing process.
- A red or purple bump usually appears immediately where the injury occurred.
- After a few days, the bruise will appear blue or black.
- After 5-10 days, the bruise will turn a greenish or yellowish color as it begins to fade.
- After 10-14 days, the bruise appears light brown and color and gets lighter each day until it fades completely.
How to Get Rid of Bruises
The only way to get rid of bruises is to speed up the healing process to lessen the pain and reduce visibility. Apply ice immediately after the injury. Apply heat to bruises that have already formed to clear up the trapped blood. Compression, elevation, and a bruise-healing diet can also help speed up the healing process.
Speeding Up the Healing Process to Reduce Pain and Visibility
Bruises can be challenging to treat because the damage is beneath your skin. The most effective way to heal a bruise is to take care of your body and give it time. However, there are things you can do at home to speed up the healing process, minimize the appearance of bruises, and even diminish the severity of your injury at the onset.
Should You Ice a Bruise?
Absolutely. An ice pack, bag of ice, or anything frozen placed on an injury when it occurs helps reduce the amount of blood that leaks from the blood vessels into the surrounding tissues. Putting ice on a fresh bruise can prevent severe discoloration.
You can also apply ice to already formed bruises in 10-minute on, 20-minute off increments to help speed up the healing process.
When you sustain an injury, you should stop what you’re doing and take some time to assess the damage. This is particularly true when it comes to bruises. If you bang your knee in the middle of a workout, get off your feet and rest. This will slow down blood flow to your bruise, making it less prevalent than it would be if you continue your workout.
Don’t massage or rub the injury because you can break more blood vessels in the process. Instead, give yourself time for the pain and swelling to subside and apply ice immediately and as needed.
Once the bruise has already formed, you can apply heat to help clear up the trapped blood under your skin. Applying heat will also boost circulation and increase blood flow.
Use a heating pad, a hot water bottle, or soak in a warm bath. This will also help loosen tight muscles and relieve any pain associated with your injury.
Elevate Your Injury
Elevate the bruised injury above the level of your heart. Thanks to gravity, this helps relieve pain and drain fluid away from the bruise. When the sore spot is below the level of your heart, it’s easier for your blood to pool, leading to the appearance of more significant bruises.
Elevation reduces pressure and compression. It also increases blood flow back to your heart and away from your injury.
If possible, wrap the bruised area with an elastic bandage. This will squeeze the tissues around your injury, preventing the blood vessels from leaking any more.
When your injury occurs, adding compression can lessen the severity of your bruise, reduce pain, and alleviate inflammation.
Follow a Bruise-Healing Diet
It’s no secret that the food you eat has a significant impact on your health. The same is true when it comes to healing injuries and bruises.
There are two ways that the foods we eat can help with bruising:
- Some foods strengthen the blood vessels in your body, which may minimize bruising altogether.
- Other foods keep your body’s tissues and skin healthy and flexible. This can help prevent and heal bruises.
To aid in minimizing, preventing and healing bruises, incorporate the following foods into your diet regularly:
- Pineapple gives your body a natural dose of bromelain. This has been known to help heal bruises faster, reduce the severity of bruises, and combat inflammation.
- Fruits with natural quercetin, such as apples, citrus, red onion, leafy green vegetables, and dark-colored berries, help strengthen the blood vessels and reduce inflammation.
- Lean protein also helps strengthen the blood vessels. Stick to protein sources that are low in saturated fats and cholesterol, such as fish, poultry, tofu, and other lean meat.
- Foods with vitamin K help prevent deficiency and reduce the presence of bruising. Excellent sources of vitamin K include kale, spinach, broccoli, lettuce, soybeans, Brussel sprouts, blueberries, and strawberries.
- Foods rich in Zinc help the body heal and strengthen the body tissues. Good sources include crab, lobster, pumpkin seeds, legumes, and spinach.
As always, following a healthy diet can keep your body functioning at its best.
When to Visit an Urgent Care Nearby
While bruises are common and not usually a cause for concern, there are some cases where you should see a doctor or visit an urgent care nearby.
Visit an urgent care or doctor for bruises:
- Accompanied by extreme pain and severe inflammation
- That occur under a fingernail or toenail and are accompanied by severe pain
- That do not improve within two weeks or won’t go away
- Occurring frequently or excessively
- Significant appearing in patients who take blood-thinning medications
- Appearing for no reason or not associated with a known injury
- That appears suddenly after starting a new medicine or supplement
- Appearing in strange places, like the back or abdomen
- On the head that are accompanied by:
- Blacking out
- Loss of memory
- On the face, especially above or under the eye, that is accompanied by:
- Loss of vision
- Vision changes
You should also go to the nearest emergency room or urgent care facility if you think you have a broken bone along with your bruising.
University Urgent Care is here to provide medical care to anyone on or near the TCU campus in Fort Worth, Texas. If you’ve sustained an injury that caused bruising, we’ll be happy to assess your situation and provide the best treatment option to help heal your injury correctly.
Our compassionate and qualified medical team is available seven days a week, from 10 AM to 8 PM. Give us a call at (817) 439-9539, book an appointment online, or simply stop in for immediate care for patients of all ages.