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First Aid & Emergencies

Treatment for Bruises

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Treating a Bruise at Home

1. Reduce Bruising and Swelling

  • Ice the area on and off for the first 24-48 hours.
  • Apply ice for about 15 minutes at a time, and always put something like a towel or wash cloth between the ice and your skin.
  • Rest the affected area.
  • If possible, elevate the affected area.

2. Treat Symptoms

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  • For pain, take acetaminophen (Tylenol). Avoid aspirin or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), which can prolong bleeding.

3. When to Call a Doctor

  • If bruise is accompanied by extreme pain and swelling, especially if the person is taking a blood-thinning medication
  • If bruises appear on skin for no apparent reason
  • The bruise in on the face or head
  • You can’t move a joint
  • You may have a broken bone

4. Follow Up

  • Two days after a bruise develops, apply a heat pack or wash cloth soaked in warm water to the area several times a day to promote healing.
  • Pain and tenderness should get better within a few days and the bruise should go away within a couple of weeks.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on March 19, 2013

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