The Basics of Treating a Bruise

A closeup image of a doctor holding a patient’s arm in their hand while examining and pointing to a bruise near their elbow.

Everyone bruises at some point. Most often, bruises are nothing to worry about outside of the minor pain or marking they may cause.

For most, bruises have no underlying conditions or serious concerns and often last only a couple of weeks. In rare instances, bruising could indicate something more serious.

Whether you’re living with an urgent medical emergency that has caused bruising or you currently have a long-lasting bruise that is causing you pain and won’t heal properly, we can help.

Let’s discuss bruising, including treatment options, in more detail.

What Is a Bruise?

Bruising is medically referred to as ecchymosis.

A bruise is a common skin injury resulting in skin discoloration and minor discomfort caused by broken blood vessels directly under the skin’s surface that leak into the skin’s tissue.

Bruises can appear on any body part but are most often found on the arms and legs.

What Causes Bruising?

Bruising is caused by a direct impact on the skin or a minor accident affecting a specific body area.

Other less common causes include

  • Heavy weightlifting
  • Vigorous exercise
  • Thinning skin
  • Bleeding disorders
  • Medications

Outside of a direct impact on the skin, some health conditions can cause bruising, including

  • Blood disorders
  • Malnutrition
  • Severe alcohol abuse
  • Cushing’s Syndrome
  • Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS)
  • Leukemia
  • Cirrhosis
  • Aplastic anemia

It is important to note that aside from health conditions, illness or accidental injury, bruising may be a sign of domestic violence, elder abuse or child abuse. If you believe someone you love is experiencing abuse, contact your local police office immediately.

How Long Do Bruises Last?

Initially, a bruise starts as a reddish hue. After a few hours, bruises turn dark blue or black and lighten in color throughout the healing process. In total, bruises take about 2 weeks to heal.

 If you are experiencing bruising that lasts longer than 3 weeks, you should seek a professional medical evaluation to ensure no underlying conditions or damage are causing the bruise to stick around.

Effective Bruise Treatment Options

The best way to support and expedite the healing process of a bruise is through the RICE method.

R – Rest the bruised area.

I – Ice the bruise in time increments of 10 to 20 minutes at a time several times a day. Ensure that the ice pack is not directly applied to the skin but wrapped in a thin towel or cover to avoid additional skin injury.

C – If the bruised area is swollen, apply compression using a bandage. Make sure that the dressing is snug but not tight.

E – Elevate the injured limb or affected area.

When to Visit Oxford Urgent Care for a Bruise

It is essential to see further medical evaluation for a bruise if

  • Pain worsens or doesn’t go away after three days
  • The affected area is swollen
  • You suddenly begin bruising often with no known cause
  • You experience bleeding from other areas of your body
  • You have frequent, large and painful bruises that linger for longer than 3 weeks

At Oxford Urgent Care, we are here to help you get to the bottom of your bruising and provide the relief you need sooner. No appointments are necessary; simply walk in today to see a doctor for your bruise.