Bruise: First aid

By Mayo Clinic Staff

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