How To Get Rid Of Bruises

Green leafy vegetables — Veggies like kale, collard greens and spinach provide vitamin K, which is essential for blood clotting. Severe vitamin K deficiency is also known to contribute to bruising and bleeding problems. (7)
Citrus fruits (and other colorful fruits and veggies) — Citrus provides vitamin C and bioflavonoids that help with wound healing.
Zinc — The chemical reactions necessary to promote wound healing require zinc. To increase your intake of zinc, add high zinc foods to your diet, like grass-fed beef, pumpkin seeds and spinach.

How to Get Rid of Bruises

When someone hits you — or you bump into something hard — it can break the small blood vessels beneath your skin. That’s where a bruise forms. This happens because the blood leaks out and has nowhere else to go. It stays there until your body absorbs it while you’re healing.

Once you’re bruised, you’ll have that telltale black-and-blue mark on your skin for up to 2 weeks. The bruise should change colors as it heals. You may also have some pain and swelling. It will hurt most in the first few days after your injury.

When you’re bruised, there are simple things you can do to try to help the healing process along. Here are some tips that may help your bruise go away more quickly.

Ice Therapy

Put ice on your bruise right after you get injured. That can reduce the size of your bruise, which may allow it to heal faster. The cold temperature from an ice pack makes the blood in that area flow more slowly. It may reduce the amount of blood that leaks out of your vessels.

Don’t put ice directly on your bruise. Protect your skin by wrapping the ice in a washcloth or paper towel. Take the ice off after about 10 minutes. Leaving it on too long could harm your skin. It’s OK to put ice on your bruise several times a day, as long as you take a break after every time you do it.

Peas, yes. Steak, no. You may have seen people in old movies or cartoons putting raw steaks on their bruises — especially on black eyes. Don’t do this yourself. It’s not safe to handle raw meat or place it against your eye or another body part, since it may be loaded with bacteria. Steaks and other raw meats don’t have special healing powers that can help a bruise. Raw meat tends to be cold, so that’s why it may have been used to soothe sore spots in decades past. If you don’t have any ice in your freezer, reach for a bag of frozen peas instead of a steak. Place the whole bag of veggies on your bruise for 10 minutes at a time to ease the pain, just like you would with ice.

Heat Therapy

Heat boosts blood flow, and that can help clear up a bruise. Wait until 48 hours after the bruise appeared, then put a heating pad or warm compress on it several times a day. You also might soak in a hot bath to ease pain and loosen up your muscles.

Rest

Stop what you’re doing when you get hurt. That can keep the bruise from getting worse. If you get kicked during a soccer game, get off the field. Get off your feet. This slows down the blood flow to your bruise. That should keep it from becoming worse than if you kept running around.

You may want to massage the sore spot when you’re resting, but it’s a bad idea. That can make the injured spot worse. You may break more blood vessels under the skin and make the bruised area larger.

Elevation

After you’re injured, it helps if you raise it above the level of your heart. This trick uses gravity to help keep your bruise as small as can be. When the sore spot is below the level of your heart, the blood there pools more easily, which can make the bruise larger. But when the sore spot is lifted above your heart, more blood will flow back to your heart.

For best results, combine steps: Rest the bruise and raise it above the level of your heart.

Compression

Compression is when you put pressure on the injured area. It can help ease any swelling caused by the bruise. It’s best to use an elastic bandage and wrap the area firmly but not too tight.

Pain Relievers

Your pain should begin to subside about 3 days after you were bruised. In the meantime, if the bruise really hurts or is swollen, you can take over-the-counter drugs to relieve your pain. NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen or naproxen can be used, though there is a slight increase in bleeding especially in elderly patients or in those already on a blood thinner.

Natural Treatments

A few natural substances may help get rid of a bruise more quickly, including:

  • Arnica: This cream made with this flower may help lessen the effects of a bruise.
  • Bromelain: A group of enzymes found in the pineapple, may help make a bruise go away faster.
  • Aloe vera: This plant has vitamins, minerals, and enzymes that soothe and moisturize the skin. It’s used to treat many types of skin conditions, including bruises.
  • Vitamin K: Studies have shown that phytonadione, or vitamin K1, can speed up the healing of bruising.

Show Sources

University Urgent Care: “How to Get Rid of Bruises.”

Cleveland Clinic: “Bruises: Management and Treatment.”

Nemours Foundation: “Bruises.”

American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons: “Muscle contusion (bruise).”

American Academy of Ophthalmology: “Black eye treatment.”

WVU Medicine: “Bruises: Types and Treatments.”

Mayo Clinic: “Bruise: First Aid.”

National Center for Biotechnology Information: “Accelerated Resolution of Laser-Induced Bruising With Topical 20% Arnica: A Rater-Blinded Randomized Controlled Trial,” “Nutritional Support for Wound Healing.”

National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health: “Bromelain.”

Scientific Research: “Therapeutic and Medicinal Uses of Aloe Vera: A Review.”

The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology: “Treatment of Actinic Purpura.”

How to Get Rid of Bruises: 10 Natural Remedies

How to get rid of bruises - Dr. Axe

Whether you have a bruised face, bruised arm or bruised knee, most people just find bruises to be unsightly and unpleasant. Most of the time, they’re nothing serious, yet knowing how get rid of bruises faster is a popular topic.

Bruises are caused by an injury or blow to a specific body part that breaks blood vessels underneath the skin. Blood seeps out of the vessels, causing discoloration, swelling and pain.

Bruises can also be caused by nutrient deficiencies, the use of certain medications or bleeding disorders. Women also typically bruise easier than men. (1)

If you’re wondering how to get rid of bruises fast, there are are a lot of natural bruise remedies that can help, and they’re not hard or complicated at all! Plus, I’ll answer some common bruise-related questions, including: how long does it take for a bruise to heal?

What Is a Bruise?

A bruise appears on the skin when an area of the body experiences some type of trauma that causes small blood vessels under the skin to rupture and leak out blood. Since the blood has nowhere to go, it gets trapped under the skin and pools, forming a colorful spot on the skin that is tender to the touch. This is a bruise, also called a contusion, and it’s not permanent because your body reabsorbs the blood after some amount of time and the bruise completely disappears.

Bruises can occur for various reasons, but most are caused by bumping or banging into something. These colorful marks can also occur because someone or something bumps into you.

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How long does a bruise take to heal?

If you’re wondering how to get rid of bruises in 24 hours, I’m sorry to tell you it’s a pretty impossible goal. It generally takes about two, maybe three, weeks for a bruise due to a minor injury or accident to heal. Sometimes it may take months depending on the severity of the bruise. A few weeks of healing time is also without treatment, so it may be faster if you use some of the natural remedies I’m about to share with you. But before a bruise completely goes away, it goes through several stages. (2, 3)

Stages of Bruising

As a bruise heals, hemoglobin (an iron-rich substance found in blood) breaks down into other compounds. This break down process causes a bruise to change colors and go through the following stages of bruising: (4)

Stage 1: A bruise is typically red right after the injury, because fresh blood rich in oxygen is gathering underneath the skin.

Stage 2: Within one to two days, a bruise begins to change color, and by day three or four, it will often be a purplish or black and blue.

Stage 3: After five to 10 days have passed, your bruise will likely appear yellow or greenish-yellow. These colors come from compounds called biliverdin and bilirubin that the body produces when it breaks down hemoglobin.

Stage 4: In 10–14 days, it’s yellowish-brown or light brown.

10 Natural Bruise Remedies

Wondering, “How can I make a bruise go away faster?” Let’s take a good look at how to make bruises go away using natural bruise remedies.

1. Cold & Hot

How do you treat a bad bruise? You want to start by applying some coldness. For the first 24 hours, it’s commonly recommended to apply an ice pack to the bruised area. Wrap the ice pack in a thin towel so it’s not in direct contact with your skin. A cold compress like an ice pack will help to decrease swelling. It can also help to reduce any pain or discomfort you’re experiencing as a result of the bruise. A day or two after you get a bruise, you can apply a warm compress, or take a warm bath, to aid healing. (5)

If you’re specifically looking into how to get rid of a black eye, cold is key! According to Mayo Clinic, applying a cold compress as soon as you can is key to decreasing swelling. Repeat the application of a cold compress several times a day for one to two days. Then you can do warm compresses. Be careful not to apply any pressure to the eye itself. (6)

2. Elevation

Another one of those simple yet highly effective bruise remedies is if possible, elevate the area of your body that has the bruise. When it comes to how to get rid of bruises on legs, this is an especially doable and helpful tip. Elevating the bruised area (your shin, for example, above heart level helps to decrease swelling and bruising. Elevation helps to prevent blood from pooling in the bruised area.

3. Top Foods to Heal Bruises

As with many cosmetic or external health concerns like bruises, addressing the issue internally is just as important, if not sometimes more important, than the natural bruise remedies you use topically on your skin. If you’re wondering how to get rid of bruises fast, you’ll want to consider consuming more foods that will promote healing and also even discourage bruising in the first place. These include:

Green leafy vegetables — Veggies like kale, collard greens and spinach provide vitamin K, which is essential for blood clotting. Severe vitamin K deficiency is also known to contribute to bruising and bleeding problems. (7)
Citrus fruits (and other colorful fruits and veggies) — Citrus provides vitamin C and bioflavonoids that help with wound healing.
Zinc — The chemical reactions necessary to promote wound healing require zinc. To increase your intake of zinc, add high zinc foods to your diet, like grass-fed beef, pumpkin seeds and spinach.

Clean, lean protein — Healthy, high-quality protein is helpful for strengthening blood vessels and encouraging their repair after a bruise-causing injury. (8) Aim for at least four to five ounces per meal daily.

How to get rid of bruises - Dr. Axe

4. Foods to Avoid

Healing bruises is not just about what you add to your diet, but also about what you take away. I highly recommend avoiding the following foods that are counterproductive to bruise healing and overall health:

Sugar — Refined sugar promotes inflammatory responses in the body and is counterproductive to healing. In general, diets high in sugar, refined starches and saturated and trans-fats but low in omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants and fiber are known for encouraging inflammation. (9)
Trans fats — Trans fats are known for triggering inflammation throughout the entire body. Trans fats can be found in fast foods, fried products and processed foods. (10)
Processed foods — Not only do they often contain trans fat, but they also may contain chemicals, dyes and other unhealthy additives.
White and wheat products — These can act as anti-nutrients, pulling beneficial vitamins and minerals out of your body.

5. Essential Oils

Frankincense essential oil is highly anti-inflammatory, making it a great choice for bruise healing. (11) Rub a couple of drops of frankincense oil directly on the bruised area three times daily. If you have sensitive skin, dilute the frankincense oil with a carrier oil first. If you’re curious how to reduce bruising on face, frankincense oil is a great choice, but make sure to keep it away from your eyes.

You can also try making this bruise cream with arnica and bilberry yourself at home. It’s loaded with beneficial ingredients like frankincense oil to help get rid of a bruise fast!

Cypress is another essential oil with a reputation for improving bruises. (12) Simply combine a drop or two of cypress oil with a carrier oil like coconut and apply directly to the bruise.

6. Bromelain

Bromelain is an enzyme found in pineapple that has impressive anti-inflammatory abilities, making it one of the top natural bruise remedies to decrease swelling and bruising. (13)

7. Vitamin C

Vitamin C is an antioxidant that helps to manufacture collagen, which is critical for healing damaged blood vessels. People that bruise easily also sometimes have low blood levels of vitamin C. Increasing dietary intake of vitamin C as well as supplementing with this key nutrient has been shown to improve bruising. (14)

8. Bioflavonoids

Bioflavonoids like rutin help strengthen the capillaries, which makes them helpful for healing bruises. A small, preliminary trial published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology gave subjects with progressive pigmented purpura (a chronic bruising disorder) 1,000 milligrams of vitamin C plus 100 milligrams of rutin per day. After four weeks, noticeable bruising was no longer apparent and did not recur in the three-month period after treatment was stopped. (15)

Rutin can be found in prunes, apricots, rose hips, the whitish rind of citrus fruits and the core of green peppers. It can also be taken as a supplement alone or in a bioflavonoid complex.

9. Arnica Oil

Arnica is another one of the most popular natural bruise remedies. In fact, arnica is commonly used topically for the pain and swelling that results from bruises, sprains and even arthritis. (16) Scientific research has also shown the benefits of using arnica for bruises. For example, a study published in the British Journal of Dermatology reveals how a topical treatment containing 20 percent arnica was able to speed up bruise healing better than a placebo or a low level vitamin K topical treatment. (17)

Apply arnica oil or gel over the area of the bruise twice daily as long as the bruised skin area is unbroken.

10. Toothpaste

Can toothpaste get rid of bruises? Some people claim it can! Perhaps if you use a natural toothpaste containing peppermint oil, it may help to increase circulation and blood flow to the area, which may help to improve the bruise. Can’t hurt to try!

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Precautions

Contact your doctor if you: (18)

  • Experience very painful swelling in the bruised area
  • Have frequent, large and/or painful bruises, especially if the bruises appear on your trunk, back or face, or seem to develop for no reason
  • Notice a lump (hematoma) form over the bruise
  • Still have pain three days after a seemingly minor injury
  • Have easy bruising and a history of significant bleeding, such as during a surgical procedure
  • Observe abnormal bleeding in other places such as from your nose or gums
  • Suddenly start bruising, but have no history of bruising
  • Have a family history of easy bruising or bleeding

According to Mayo Clinic, these are some of the signs and symptoms that may indicate a more serious problem such as a blood-clotting problem or blood-related disease which needs to be addressed. (18)

If you get a black eye, seek medical care immediately if you have vision problems, severe pain, bruising around both eyes or bleeding in an eye or from the nose.

If any topical bruise remedy causes a reaction, discontinue use. When using essential oils, it’s always a good idea to perform a patch test first and use a carrier oil to decrease the risk for skin sensitivity.

Speak with your doctor before using any natural bruise remedies if you have a medical condition or are currently taking medication.

If you’re experiencing unexplained or easier bruising, you should check to see if you are currently taking any medications or supplements that could cause increased bruising.

Final Thoughts

  • Bruises are caused by an injury or blow to a specific body part that breaks blood vessels underneath the skin.
  • A bruise goes through color stages as your body works to heal itself, so remember that it’s completely normal for a bruise to change color over time.
  • How long do bruises last? Generally, two to three weeks without treatment, but the time frame may be shorter if you use natural bruise remedies.
  • How to treat bruises naturally:
    • Use a cold compresses first, then warm compresses/baths.
    • Elevate the bruised area if you can.
    • Eat the right foods to encourage bruise healing, including leafy greens, citrus fruits, high zinc foods and clean protein.
    • Avoid unhealthy choices that promote inflammation and discourage healing such as high sugar, processed and fast foods.
    • Apply essential oils like frankincense and cypress to bruised areas.
    • Increase intake of foods with bromelain, vitamin C and bioflavonoids and/or try these natural bruise remedies in supplement form.
    • Try arnica oil or ointment, which is a well-known natural bruise remedy.

    10 Ways to Get Rid of Bruises

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    You may be able to get rid of bruises faster by using ice, heat, or certain topical treatments and remedies.

    Bruises are the result of some type of trauma or injury to the skin that causes blood vessels to burst. Bruises usually go away on their own, but you can take steps to lessen the pain and reduce the visibility.

    The following treatments can be done at home:

    1. Ice therapy

    Apply ice immediately after the injury to reduce blood flow around the area. Cooling the blood vessels can reduce the amount of blood that leaks into the surrounding tissue. This can prevent the bruise from being as apparent and reduce swelling.

    You can use a reusable ice pack, a bag of ice, or a bag of frozen vegetables wrapped in a cloth or towel. Ice the bruise for 10 minutes at a time. Wait 20 minutes before reapplying.

    2. Heat

    You can apply heat to boost circulation and increase blood flow. This will help to clear away the trapped blood after the bruise has already formed. Applying heat can also help to loosen tense muscles and relieve pain. You can use a heating pad or a hot water bottle. Soaking in a hot bath is another option.

    3. Compression

    Wrap the bruised area in an elastic bandage. This will squeeze the tissues and help prevent blood vessels from leaking. Using compression can lessen the severity of the bruise and help to reduce pain and swelling.

    4. Elevation

    Elevate the bruised area so that it’s above the heart. This helps to relieve pain and drain fluid away from the bruised area. Elevation can also reduce pressure and compression. This gives you the perfect chance to rest and relax, which can also help the healing process.

    5. Arnica

    Arnica is a homeopathic herb that is said to reduce inflammation and swelling, thus making it an ideal treatment for bruising. A 2010 study found that topical arnica ointment effectively reduced laser-induced bruising. You can use an arnica ointment or gel on the bruise a few times per day.

    6. Vitamin K cream

    Vitamin K is an essential nutrient that helps with blood clotting. Vitamin K cream was shown to reduce the severity of bruising after laser treatment in a small 2002 study . To use this treatment, gently rub vitamin K cream onto the bruise at least two times per day.

    7. Aloe vera

    Aloe vera has been shown to reduce pain and inflammation. You can apply it topically to the affected area. Make sure to use a gel that is pure aloe vera. Read the label carefully to check for additives.

    8. Vitamin C

    Vitamin C has anti-inflammatory properties and can be used to promote wound healing. You can also find gels, creams, or serums that contain vitamin C. You can apply these topically. You can also take it as a supplement. Eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables as well.

    9. Pineapple

    Bromelain is a mixture of enzymes found in pineapple. Bromelain can help to reduce the severity of the bruise and reduce inflammation . You can eat pineapple or take bromelain supplements. You can also apply it topically as a cream.

    10. Comfrey

    Comfrey is a plant that is often used to treat skin ailments and inflammation. Comfrey cream has been shown to have healing powers that can be used to treat bruises.

    You can apply the cream to your bruise a few times a day. You can also make a compress using dried comfrey leaves. Steep the leaves in boiling water for 10 minutes. Then strain out the liquid and wrap the leaves in a towel or cloth. Apply it to the bruised area.

    Bruises may take a few weeks to heal. Take care to rest your body to allow for maximum healing. Using some of the home remedies described here can help to speed up the healing process. Keep an eye on your progression. Keep in mind that bruises can be the result of a severe sprain or fracture. Call your doctor if:

    • the injury seemed minor, but you’re still experiencing pain after three days
    • you develop a lump over your bruise
    • you seem to be bruising for no reason
    • you notice blood in your urine or stool

    These are symptoms of a more serious injury.

    Last medically reviewed on June 1, 2017

    How we reviewed this article:

    Healthline has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We avoid using tertiary references. You can learn more about how we ensure our content is accurate and current by reading our editorial policy.

    • Leu S, et al. (2010). Accelerated resolution of laser-induced bruising with topical 20% arnica: a rater-blinded randomized controlled trial [Abstract]. DOI:
      10.1111/j.1365-2133.2010.09813.x
    • Mayo Clinic Staff. (2014). Bruise: first aid.
      mayoclinic.org/first-aid/first-aid-bruise/basics/art-20056663
    • Mayo Clinic Staff. (2015). Sprain: first aid.
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    • Nutrition and pain: specific nutrients and botanicals. (2016).
      mayoclinic.org/nutrition-and-pain/art-20208638?pg=2
    • Rathnavelu V, et al. (2016). Potential role of bromelain in clinical and therapeutic applications. DOI: 10.3892/br.2016.720
    • Self-care approaches to treating pain. (2016).
      mayoclinic.org/self-care-approaches-to-treating-pain/art-20208634
    • Shah NS, et al. (2002). The effects of topical vitamin K on bruising after laser treatment [Abstract].
      ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12140470
    • Shenefelt PD. (2011). Herbal medicine: biomolecular and clinical aspects (2nd edition).
      ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK92761/
    • Staiger C. (2012). Comfrey: a clinical overview.
      ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3491633/
    • Telang PS. (2013). Vitamin C in dermatology.
      idoj.in/text.asp?2013/4/2/143/110593
    • Vitamin K [Fact sheet]. (2016).
      ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminK-HealthProfessional/

    Our experts continually monitor the health and wellness space, and we update our articles when new information becomes available.

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Alex Koliada, PhD

Alex Koliada, PhD

Alex Koliada, PhD, is a well-known doctor. He is famous for his studies of ageing, genetics and other medical conditions. He works at the Institute of Food Biotechnology and Genomics NAS of Ukraine. His scientific researches are printed by the most reputable international magazines. Some of his works are: Differences in the gut Firmicutes to Bacteroidetes ratio across age groups in healthy Ukrainian population [BiomedCentral.com]; Mating status affects Drosophila lifespan, metabolism and antioxidant system [Science Direct]; Anise Hyssop Agastache foeniculum Increases Lifespan, Stress Resistance, and Metabolism by Affecting Free Radical Processes in Drosophila [Frontiersin].
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