How to administer first aid for a bruise

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 may cause a bruise that at first looks like a black-and-blue mark and then changes color as it heals.

You can enhance bruise healing with a few simple techniques. Remember RICE, for rest, ice, compress and elevate:

  • Rest the bruised area, if possible.
  • Ice the bruise with an ice pack wrapped in a towel. Leave it in place for 10 to 20 minutes. Repeat several times a day for a day or two as needed.
  • Compress the bruised area if it is swelling, using an elastic bandage. Don't make it too tight.
  • Elevate the injured area.

If your skin isn't broken, you don't need a bandage. Consider taking an over-the-counter pain reliever if needed.

Consult your doctor if you:

  • Notice very painful swelling in the bruised area
  • Are still experiencing pain three days after a seemingly minor injury
  • Have frequent, large or painful bruises, particularly if your bruises appear on your trunk, back or face, or seem to develop for no known reasons
  • Have easy bruising and a history of significant bleeding, such as during a surgical procedure
  • Notice a lump (hematoma) form over the bruise
  • Are experiencing abnormal bleeding elsewhere, such as from your nose or gums
  • Suddenly begin bruising, but have no history of bruising
  • Have a family history of easy bruising or bleeding

These signs and symptoms may indicate a more serious problem, such as a blood-clotting problem or blood-related disease.

From Mayo Clinic to your inbox

Sign up for free, and stay up to date on research advancements, health tips and current health topics, like COVID-19, plus expertise on managing health.

To provide you with the most relevant and helpful information, and understand which information is beneficial, we may combine your email and website usage information with other information we have about you. If you are a Mayo Clinic patient, this could include protected health information. If we combine this information with your protected health information, we will treat all of that information as protected health information and will only use or disclose that information as set forth in our notice of privacy practices. You may opt-out of email communications at any time by clicking on the unsubscribe link in the e-mail.

Nov. 12, 2020