Symptoms of bruises
Bruises can be caused by a variety of physical injuries, although Who reports that the causes are not always physical. They can include sports injuries, concussions, muscle sprains, medications and supplements.
Healthline advises to look out for the following symptoms when determining whether or not you have a bruise:
- Skin discolouration;
- Pain, tenderness and swelling around the discoloured area;
- Joint or muscle pain and limited range of movement in a particular area;
- Unbroken skin;
- Itchiness; and
- Repetitive bruising in the same area can cause permanent yellow-brown skin discolouration.
Different Types of Bruises
Bruises tend to be classified by the location in which they appear on your body. Healthline lists three types of bruises based on this classification:
- Subcutaneous Bruises - these are just beneath the skin;
- Intramuscular Bruises - these are in the underlying muscles; and
- Periosteal bruises - this is bruising of the bones;
How long do bruises last?
Dr Victor Marchine of Doctors Health Press says that how long a bruise lasts depends on the severity of the bruise as well as the body type of the person who has suffered the trauma. Some people heal faster than others; as a result some bruises start to disappear a few days after appearing, with the colour fading from the edges and working its way to the centre of the bruise. Eventually all that’s left is a yellow blotch on the skin which fades with time. In circumstances where there is considerable bruising, the skin could take up to three weeks before it fades
Unfortunately, there is no quick fix when it comes to a bruise. However, Healthline recommends treatments that speed up the healing process and reduce both the severity of a bruise as well as the likelihood of sustaining one. Here are the top 12 ways:
1. Witch hazel
Witch hazel is a natural astringent which you can apply to the bruised area. This natural remedy can be applied to the bruised area 3 times a day and will help the bruise fade faster and repair the underlying damage. To apply, soak cotton wool in witch hazel and press against the bruise for two minutes at a time.
2. Arnica gel
Arnica is a medicinal herb known for its anti-inflammatory properties. Applying arnica ointment to the bruised area is a natural remedy to reduce pain and swelling. However, Arnica is not a quick fix and you would have to apply it twice a day for two weeks for there to be visible results.
3. Aloe Vera
Aloe vera is known for its healing properties, and specifically for reducing pain and inflammation. The aloe vera will work best when applied directly onto the skin. For best results use a gel that is pure aloe vera and check the label to ensure there are no other additives.
4. Vitamin K
Rubbing vitamin K cream onto the injured area can limit the blood leaks and reduce the severity of the bruise. Combining vitamin K cream with retinol will help break down the blood so the body can reabsorb it more easily. Vitamin K cream is suitable to treat bruises all over the body and is quite safe on the face and around the mouth and eyes.
Bromelain is a mixture of enzymes found in pineapple. It has anti-inflammatory properties and helps reduce the severity of bruising as well as inflammation or swelling. If you want to increase your body's Bromelain levels, you can either eat pineapple, purchase bromelain supplements (only if directed by your doctor) or apply a Bromelain cream or gel directly to the bruised area.
6. Increase iron intake
Increasing your iron intake helps to reduce the risk of bruising. If you want to boost your iron levels, consider maintaining a healthy diet that includes iron-rich foods like meat, poultry, beans, and green leafy vegetables. Alternatively, opt for iron supplements.
7. Vitamin C
Ensuring that you are getting enough vitamin C is yet another preventative approach, because vitamin C aids in collagen production and collagen improves both your skin and blood vessels' abilities to withstand the impacts that lead to bruises. Given its preventative nature. this treatment is not something that you can start doing to assist with an existing bruise.
Sitting still and resting reduces blood flow which will in turn minimise the severity of a bruise. In severe circumstances, resting for up to 48 hours will assist in making sure you're getting the most out of this treatment option.
Creating compression by wrapping the bruised area in a medium weight elastic bandage will help constrict the blood vessels and reduce the amount of blood that leaks from the vessels. This will in turn reduce the pain and swelling experienced in the area. While this method is not suitable for bruises on the face, it can be used on most other body parts, including the fingers and nails.
10. Apply heat
Applying heat either by way of a warm compress, heating pad, or hot water bottle can assist with blood circulation and blood flow. Blood flow and blood circulation will help your body clear away the blood that has pooled as a result of the bruise. Given the way in which heat affects a bruised area it should not be applied till after a bruise has formed.
Elevating the bruised area above your heart helps fluid flow away from the bruised area, relieving pain, pressure and compression which contribute to bruising and pain. This treatment is not possible with all body parts, however if you can elevate the bruised area you should do so as soon as the trauma occurs.
12. Ice therapy
Applying an ice pack or cold compress to your injured area right away will help reduce the size of the bruise and swelling. Cooling the temperature of the injured area slows down the blood flow and reduces the amount of blood that leaks out. It's important to wrap the ice pack in a cloth or towel and continued to reapply it to the area for 15 mins each hour for up to 48 hours after the incident has occurred.
A final word on bruises
In some situations, although not often, bruises can be as a result of a severe sprain or fracture. So, it's important to monitor your bruise and get in touch with your doctor if you notice:
- the bruise is still painful after 2-3 days, but you thought the injury was minor;
- a lump over your bruise;
- bruising for no reason;
- bruising easily; or
- blood in your urine or stool.
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