Falling off a bike, being hit by a ball or catching your finger in a car door can all leave you with a nasty bruise. A bruise is a common injury caused when small blood vessels under the skin are broken and bleed. Initially a bruise will appear red or purplish and is tender to touch. After several days, the bruise will change colour and appear blue or black, then green or yellow and eventually fade. Although most bruises are fairly harmless and tend to heal with simple first aid and time, it is important to seek medical advice if any of the following are noticed:
- Your bruise is accompanied by extreme swelling and pain, especially if you are taking a blood-thinning medication for a medical condition;
- You are getting bruises regularly for no apparent reason;
- Your bruise is very painful and is located under a toenail or fingernail;
- Your bruise does not improve within 2 weeks or fails to completely clear after 3 to 4 weeks;
- You are experiencing abnormal bleeding elsewhere, such as your nose or gums, or you notice blood in your eyes, stools or urine.
The treatment of a bruise is most effective immediately after the injury, while the bruise is still reddish. To help reduce swelling or the amount of bruising after an injury, the R.I.C.E.R. management is recommended.
Rest - Rest the bruised area, where possible. Ice - Apply ice to your injury, 20 minutes at a time, up to eight times a day. An ice pack or ice spray (e.g. Elastoplast Sport Cold Spray) can be used. Compress - Compress the affected area with a bandage. Elevate - Where possible, keep your injury elevated on a pillow above the level of your heart, to help reduce swelling. Refer - Seek medical attention if no improvement is seen within 48 hours.
After 48 Hours
Ice is usually applied to an injury within the first 48 hours, however, after this time heat may be more soothing. You may like to apply a warm washcloth to your bruise 2 to 3 times a day, for about 10 minutes, to allow your skin to reabsorb the blood more quickly. In addition to this, 2-3cm of Hirudoid Cream may be applied onto your bruise, once or twice a day, to accelerate the healing and reduce swelling and inflammation.
For pain relief paracetamol (e.g. Panadol Rapid) or ibuprofen (e.g. Nurofen Tablets) may be taken, as instructed. Unless otherwise instructed, try to avoid taking aspirin, as this may prolong the bleeding and delay the healing of your bruise.
Arnica has been used for a number of years for the temporary relief of strains, sprains and bruising and is available in a gel or cream preparation (e.g. Brauer Arnica Cream). The cream may be applied every 4 hours and may assist in the healing process of your bruise.
A deficiency of Vitamin C and Bioflavonoids may be associated with easy bruising. A healthy, well balanced diet usually consists of adequate levels of both of the above, however a Vitamin C supplement may be taken for additional support.
Certain medications or supplements, usually in high doses, can increase your risk of bruising. These may include: blood thinning drugs e.g. aspirin and warfarin, and supplements e.g. fish oil, ginko, ginger and garlic. Please consult with your Doctor or Advantage Pharmacist if you are taking any of the above and have any concerns with bruising. Protect you skin from further damage by wearing protective gear whilst playing contact sports, try to keep your house hazard-free and avoid prolonged exposure to the sun.