8 Ways to Heal a Bruise

Unless you encase yourself in bubble wrap, you’ll never be bruise-proof. But you can lessen the likelihood of a small bruise turning into a large one and help the black-and-blue fade quickly. Here’s how.

By The Editors, Prevention

1. Ice it. If the skin isn’t broken, put ice on any injury that might bruise, advises Monica Halem, M.D. “Ice constricts the blood vessels and prevents more blood from seeping into the skin,” she says. A cold pack also minimizes the swelling, numbs the area, and reduces pain. Wrap the ice pack in a thin cloth to protect your skin, put it on the bruise as quickly as possible, and keep it there for 15 minutes. If you suspect the bump will blossom into a severe bruise, continue this ice treatment every couple of hours for the first 24 hours. Allow your skin to warm naturally and don’t apply heat between ice packs.

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2. Then add heat. After 24 hours, use heat to dilate the blood vessels and improve circulation in the area. “Warm compresses will help speed up the body’s natural mechanisms for removing the blood in the bruise,” says Randy Wexler, M.D.

3. Keep it closed and clean. Leave the skin covering a bruise intact, says Dr. Halem. “If the skin is already broken, clean it with soap and water, and then apply an over-the-counter antibiotic ointment or petroleum jelly,” she says. Then cover it with an adhesive bandage.

4. Prop your feet up. Bruises are little reservoirs of blood. Blood, like any liquid, runs downhill. If you do a lot of standing, blood that has collected in a bruise will seep down through your soft tissues and find other places to puddle. “Elevation will also help ease any swelling,” Dr. Halem says.

5. Eat some C. If you do bruise easily, there’s a possibility you could be deficient in vitamin C.
Vitamin C is instrumental in helping build protective collagen tissue around blood vessels in the skin, says Sheldon V. Pollack, M.D. Your face, hands, and feet contain less collagen than, say, your thighs, so bruises in these areas are often darker. If you bruise easily, Dr. Pollack suggests 500 milligrams of vitamin C three times a day to help build your collagen. Or you can boost your intake by eating foods rich in vitamin C such as citrus fruits, green leafy vegetables, and bell peppers.

Find out why Vitamin C is an anti-aging powerhouse

6. Rub on Vitamin K cream. Vitamin K decreases bruising—both inside and out—by helping blood to clot. Rub some vitamin-K cream (available in your local drugstore and online) on a bruise a few times a day to clear it up faster, Dr. Halem says. You can also minimize bruising or ease the severity of a bruise by boosting your intake of vitamin-K-rich foods. “Green leafy vegetables, alfalfa, broccoli, and seaweed are good dietary sources of vitamin K,” she says.

7. Watch your meds. People who take aspirin to protect against heart disease or those on blood thinners will find that a bump easily turns into a bruise. Drugs such as anti-inflammatories, antidepressants, and asthma medicines can inhibit clotting under the skin and cause larger bruises. Alcoholics and drug abusers tend to bruise easily, too. If you’re taking medicine that makes you prone to bruising, talk to your doctor about it.

8. Try a Bromelain supplement. This  pineapple extract, available in most health food stores, “digests” proteins that cause inflammation and pain, says Jay Zimmerman, M.D. “Take 1 or 2 grams with water before meals.”

Are you taking the supplements you need to stay healthy?

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Laura M.
Laura M.2 years ago

All these suggestions are good basic advice except that arnica is no better than placebo as many clinical trials have proven - the only natural remedy I have found that really works is Unibalm - it contains Vitamin K to stop bruising and geranium oil which is a natural antibacterial astringent - works like magic!

Rhian O'Malley
Rhian O'Malley2 years ago

Thankl you very much.

Liz M.
Liz M.3 years ago

Thank you to the person(s) below who recommended either Traumeel or arnica. Tested Traumeel on silver-dollar pitch black (darker than eggplant) nasty bruise. The skin was not broken. In two days the center of the bruise turned skin color surrounded by a circle of light-ish blue/purple.

I've never seen anything like this. In contrast, very little change in the other two, untreated bruises I got in the same bike fall. Sure enough, now that I check the ingredient list, Traumeel contains arnica. Thank you!

jane richmond
jane richmond4 years ago


Chinmayee Jog
Chinmayee Jog4 years ago

Thanks for sharing...I don't know about the petroleum jelly bit, I would probably just clean it and keep it dry...

Catsy D.
Catsy D.4 years ago

Thank you!

Jo Anne K.
JoAnne Kuracina4 years ago

Heat helps fading of bruising, better yet, moist heat. Arnica gel and something called Traumeel also speed things up.

Loo Samantha
Loo sam4 years ago

thanks for sharing.

Dace J.
Dace J.4 years ago

On open bruise apply sugar as it stops the bleeding and closes the bruise. On a day old bruise apply aloe for quick, no scar healing (apply every day till fine).

Natalie Scerri
Natalie S.4 years ago

Thanks for the tips. While I was familiar with some of them, it is the first time I have read about the beneficial effects of vitamins C & K on bruising.