Any injury or trauma forceful enough to burst blood vessels nearest to the outer layers of the skin will probably leave behind an unsightly bruise. Healing happens when the blood vessels relax and let the body reabsorb the blood in the bruise.
First, it is helpful to understand how bruises form after a trauma. Red blood cells leak out of the damaged capillaries and collect under the skin’s surface. This immediately produces a painful red or purple bump.
A few days later, the bump becomes a familiar black-and-blue mark that shows through the translucent skin tissue. A week or so after that, the damaged tissue appears yellowish green, fades to light brown, and vanishes on its own.
The changes in color, as time passes, signals that healing is occurring as the body metabolizes the blood cells in the skin. Older people and those with thin skin (literally, not figuratively) typically bruise more easily.
With age, blood vessel walls thin and become fragile to the point that a bruise may appear when no forceful injury was even noticed.
Although bruises will fade naturally, in a couple of weeks, following are ten ways to speed up the healing process and lose those ugly bruises fast.
The immediate application of ice on a wound reduces the blood flow in that part of the body. This, in turn, reduces the amount of blood that spreads into the surrounding tissue, preventing bruises and bringing down swelling.
Wrap ice, a freezer ice pack, or even a bag of frozen vegetables in a washcloth or other fabric. Apply the cold source for 10 minutes, remove it, and re-apply after 20 minutes.
If a bruise is already visible, use the opposite tactic and apply heat to the region. Heat increases blood flow and circulation. It also relaxes tense muscles and eases pain.
Apply a hot water bottle or heating pad to the area or soak in a hot bath.
Binding a wounded area squeezes the damaged tissues together and reduces the amount of blood that leaks into the surrounding area. This reduces the amount of bruising you experience.
Apply pressure to the bruised area with an elastic bandage or tight sock.
In medical terms, elevation means raising a part of the body above the heart. This forces blood and other fluids to drain away from the injured area, reducing pain and bruising.
Sit or lie down with the injured part of your body positioned on a pillow or other bolster that is thick enough to lift the affected area above your heart (chest).
Arnica (Arnica montana) is a natural herbal remedy used to treat many common aches and pains. It relaxes blood vessels to promote rapid healing.
Arnica comes as a topical ointment, gel, cream, or stick for direct application to the skin. Alternatively, fresh plant gel can be applied to the skin. It is also available in homeopathic tablets to be taken orally (by mouth).
Note that eating arnica in its plant form poisons the liver and can be fatal. The oral supplements contain highly diluted (watered down) of arnica. The U.S. Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has classified arnica as an unsafe herb.
- Vitamin K Cream
Vitamin K is abundant in dark green, leafy vegetables or as an oral supplement. A deficiency in vitamin K can cause easy bruising.
Taking a course of antibiotics can destroy vitamin K-synthesizing microorganisms normally present in the digestive tract. This important nutrient also promotes blood clotting.
Rub vitamin K cream gently onto the bruised area two times daily or more frequently.
- Aloe Vera
The gel of the aloe vera plant (Aloe barbadensis miller) is high in vitamin E which promotes healing. Aloe vera also provides vitamins A, B12, and C plus folic acid and choline – all of which are antioxidants that neutralize and reduce cell damage from free radicals.
You can grow your own aloe plants with ease because, as desert plants, they thrive on neglect. Plant in lean (low in nutrients), gravelly soil and water sparingly – once a month or even less. Don’t let the roots stand in excess water. Remove all or part of a leaf, slice the sides, and peel back the outer skin to reveal the squishy pulp inside.
Natural aloe vera gel is colorless. Any colored commercial products that contain aloe also contain some tinting substance, perhaps a chemical dye.
To use, rub the clear gel directly on the bruised area as often as you like. The skin will absorb it and speed the healing process.
- Vitamin C
As mentioned above, vitamin C is an antioxidant that also reduces inflammation (redness and irritation). This vitamin helps wounds heal.
Get vitamin C naturally from eating foods that contain it – citrus fruits, broccoli, cantaloupe, cauliflower, kale, kiwi, papaya, red, green or yellow pepper, sweet potato, strawberries, and tomatoes – or take oral supplements. Take 200 mg of vitamin C daily.
Bromelain is a mixture of enzymes found in the stem of the pineapple plant (Ananas comosus). Swelling, inflammation, and muscle soreness are all eased by bromelain.
Eat fresh or dried pineapple, take 200-400 mg of bromelain supplement, or get a topical cream to apply directly to the bruised skin.
The comfrey plant (Symphytum, which means “unite”) used to be called Knitbone because of its ability to heal broken bones and knit them back together. The leaves and roots contain allantoin, a cell proliferant (a mildly irritating substance that strengthens weakened connective tissues). Allantoin regenerates wounds and speeds up the growth of new, healthy cells.
Taking comfrey internally is not recommended because high doses can damage the liver. Therefore, apply a topical preparation to the skin’s surface.
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Bruising easily or without any remarkable trauma may signal the need for medical attention. When the bone marrow doesn’t produce enough platelets (blood components that stop leaks in the walls of injured blood vessels), bruising easily is common. This condition, called thrombocytopenia, may be caused by anemia (low red blood cell count), leukemia, an immune system problem, as a drug side effect or from consuming too much alcohol.
If you bruise easily or without explanation, see your doctor and get a complete blood count to confirm or deny the presence of an underlying health disorder.