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Treating Bruises in Children

Medically Reviewed by Renee A. Alli, MD on November 15, 2021

Bruises are not very common in infants. They're more common on the lower legs and foreheads of toddlers just learning to walk, active preschoolers, and elementary schoolchildren.

Call Doctor If:

  • The bruised area seems very painful, swollen, or infected.
  • Your child has a bruise after a serious accident involving the head or an abdominal injury.
  • Your child has a large number of bruises or unexplained bruises.
  • Your child has a fever.

1. Apply Ice

  • Wrap a cold pack in a towel or washcloth and hold it against the bruise for 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Repeat, but no more than once an hour.
  • Do not hold ice or anything frozen directly against a child's skin.

 

2. Elevate the Area

  • If possible, raise the bruised area above the heart to reduce swelling.

3. Reduce Pain

  • Use infant or child-formula acetaminophen (Tylenol). Don't use ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) because it may prolong bleeding.
  • Follow the dosing instructions on the label.
  • If your child has never taken this medication before, call your pediatrician first.
  • Don't give aspirin to a child under 16.

Show Sources

SOURCES:

Cincinnati Children's Hospital: "Child Abuse Questions."

DukeHealth.org: "Bruises."

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