A bruise forms when a blow breaks blood vessels near your skin's surface, allowing a small amount of blood to leak into the tissues under your skin. The trapped blood appears as a black-and-blue mark.
If your skin isn't broken, you don't need a bandage, but you enhance bruise healing with these simple techniques:
- Elevate the injured area.
- Apply ice or a cold pack several times a day for a day or two after the injury.
- Rest the bruised area, if possible.
- Consider acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) for pain relief, or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others) for pain relief and to reduce swelling.
See your doctor if
- You have unusually large or painful bruises — particularly if your bruises seem to develop for no known reasons.
- You begin to bruise easily.
- You're experiencing abnormal bleeding elsewhere, such as from your nose or gums, or you notice blood in your eyes, stool or urine.
- You have no history of bruising, but suddenly experience bruises.
These signs and symptoms may indicate a more serious problem, such as a blood-clotting problem or blood-related disease. Bruises accompanied by persistent pain or headache also may indicate a more serious underlying illness and require medical attention.
Nov. 08, 2011
- Muscle contusion (bruise). American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00341. Accessed Sept. 16, 2011.
- Approach to sports injuries. The Merck Manuals: The Merck Manual for Healthcare Professionals. http://www.merck.com/mmpe/sec21/ch324/ch324e.html?qt=injury&alt=sh. Accessed Sept. 16, 2011.
- Idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/dci/Diseases/Itp/ITP_All.html. Accessed Sept. 16, 2011.