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.
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.