Physically active people often get bruises from frequent exercise, which can be frustrating. Sometimes, these bruises scar, but this depends on the type of bruising and the associated injuries to the skin. Red light therapy has great potential for healing bruises and providing overall skin rejuvenation, reducing wrinkles, healing acne, easing chronic pain, and treating wounds.
This article discusses the typical causes of bruising and how red light therapy can be an effective treatment for bruises.
What Are Bruises?
Bruises (also called contusions) are skin discolorations that form due to a skin or tissue injury. This may happen when someone smacks their thumb with a hammer, gets hit in the face with an elbow during a basketball game, or bangs a knee hard on a car door – and those are only a few of many incidents that can lead to bruising.
When such an injury occurs, oxygen-rich blood vessels under the skin can become damaged, causing them to leak. Blood then pools under the skin, which results in the skin turning black, blue, yellow, brown, or purple depending on your skin tone. This is why bruises are sometimes colloquially known as "black and blue marks."
An especially severe type of bruise, known as a hematoma, occurs due to damage to large blood vessels, often due to an accident or other type of trauma. Hematomas are swollen, raised bumps, and are often very painful. Red light therapy may also help with their pain.
How Do Bruises Form?
When blood gets stuck under the skin's surface, it creates blemishes, which we refer to as a bruise. An injury breaks the small blood vessels without fracturing the skin cells. If these vessels are damaged, blood will seep out under the skin.
There are a variety of bruises one can sustain, such as muscle, skin, and one of the worst – bone bruises. Some bruises swell and can become painful.
Bruises can take several weeks to a month to fade. One method often used to decrease swelling and bruising is to put ice on the injury. This is quite effective in most cases. However, if you experience bruising for no apparent reason or if the wound is infected, reach out to your medical care provider for assistance.
Why Do Some People Bruise Easily?
People who live an active lifestyle, especially those who work out often or participate in sports, suffer from bruising more frequently than those who are more sedentary. They may not even realize the injury occurred until after the activity is over, and they see the telltale purplish bruise spreading on their skin.
Gender is also a factor in who bruises the most easily. According to Joseph Torkildson, M.D., a hematologist who often sees patients with bruises, women are typically more vulnerable to bruising because their skin contains more fat and less collagen than men. Collagen is a protein that's responsible for skin's ability to heal wounds. It helps structure and strengthens the skin.
"Collagen forms a network of fibers in the skin that hold it together like a net," says Dr. Torkildson. "The collagen supports blood vessels, so they are more protected from injury." He goes on to say that the dense collagen layer is thicker in men, which better protects their vessels from injury. Since women naturally produce collagen in smaller amounts, men are less likely to sustain bruises.
People who take medications such as the anti-inflammatory drug naproxen to alleviate pain or prescription blood thinners for good blood supply also typically bruise more easily. Elderly people whose skin becomes thinner over time bruise easier as well.
Signs of Serious Bruising
It is essential to recognize more severe bruises because they may represent a more serious medical condition. The severity of a bruise often depends on how traumatic the injury causing it was. Typically, bruises will heal within two weeks. If a bruise lasts longer, visit your physician or urgent care center.
The symptoms of bruises will vary by their cause. Their progression is determined by the color: fresh bruises will typically have a reddish color and turn yellowish-brown near healing.
Serious bruises that require medical attention typically have the following signs:
- Turn blue or dark purple within a few hours
- Usually feels tender and maybe painful the first couple of days
- Tightness or stiffness in the affected muscle or joint
Be sure to reach out to your doctor if the bruised area begins to swell and is extremely painful. This is especially important if you are taking a blood-thinning medication. Unexplained bruising is also a good reason to call your doctor for assistance.
How Red Light Therapy Treats Bruises
Red light therapy, also known as low-level light therapy and photobiomodulation, has been gaining attention worldwide for its natural, non-invasive type of care. It features light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs that shine specifically calibrated wavelengths of light onto the skin.
Low level laser therapy can be an effective form of treatment for bruises. When using red light therapy for bruises, certain wavelengths of light – from 630 nanometers (nm) to 850 nm – can reduce the appearance of bruises and pierces skin tissue, and promote wound healing at the cellular level. Red light can also stimulate the production of collagen.
Using red light therapy is an effective approach to wound healing since it can successfully fade skin discoloration in a relatively short period of time. This has been shown in research by the way skin affected by rosacea, sun damage, and scars respond to treatment with red light. When tissue absorbs red light, this creates oxygen and nutrients that enhance wound healing.
Studies have also shown that adding low level laser therapy to skincare treatment after surgeries like blepharoplasty (plastic surgery to repair droopy eyelids) reduces the time for side effects to subside and cuts the healing time in half or by one-third.
As previously mentioned, when there is trauma to the skin, blood pools beneath the skin. Even though this is part of the body's natural defenses, it causes bruising. Using red light therapy allows intense healing nutrients to enter the blood, aiding in rapid restoration and creation of new capillaries.
How to Use Red Light Therapy to Treat Your Bruise at Home
It is now possible to enjoy quality, affordable red light therapy in the privacy and comfort of your home. Although many consumer-grade LED light therapy devices are on the market, it is important to invest in medical-grade red light therapy devices.
Medical-grade devices are a better option in terms of efficiency and effectiveness. These devices utilize only the most well-studied and clinically proven red light wavelengths.
Those wanting to experience the benefits of this type of light therapy at home should consider devices like PlatinumLED BIO and BIOMAX, which offer a 3-watt bulb – the only medical-grade bulb. You will want to choose a panel based on your individual needs.
Smaller panels like the BIOMAX 300 and BIO 450 are great for facial and neck skin aging, hair loss, small wounds, arthritis, and thyroid issues.
Larger panels like the BIO 600 and BIOMAX 900 cover more area, making them useful for whole-body skincare.
Keep the lights about 6 to 8 inches from the treatment area for maximum benefits. Use the red light for about 10 to 20 minutes per session, four to six times a week.
Can Red Light Therapy Treat Scars, Burns, and Other Wounds?
Using light therapy for bruises is just one way to benefit from this technology. Red light therapy is also a chemical-free and effective method for treating many skin issues. Use it to hasten the healing process for cuts, burns, and scars, minimize stretch marks and increase hair growth. It may even serve as an acne treatment.
Red Light Therapy for Burns
According to a 2010 study by researchers from China, when red light therapy was used to treat the wounds of burn patients, it had a positive effect on their recovery. The researchers found that patients with second and third-degree burns treated with red light healed faster and had decreased inflammation and pain.
A study conducted in 2018 showed that red light therapy helped create better blood flow and increased the cells that assist with tissue repair.
Nearly every study on red light therapy showed decreased inflammation levels. These healing properties are important for experiencing less discomfort while attempting to recover.
To summarize, patients rehabilitating after injuries or surgeries can experience pain reduction and inflammation with fewer side effects than with invasive surgeries and prescription drugs.
Treat Scars with Red Light Therapy
Scars can be embarrassing and difficult to get rid of, and in some cases, they are painful. If you've wished for a way to restore your skin to its original condition, red light therapy has been scientifically proven to prevent and reduce scarring. This type of light therapy uses certain wavelengths to do more than just reduce the visibility of bruises; it penetrates through the tissue and encourages healing at the cellular level.
Our cells respond to light, and as research has shown, red wavelengths stimulate cellular activity, which includes the cells automatically regenerating. These light waves affect the circulatory system's nerve cells (neurons) and fibroblasts.
Red light treatment increases circulation to the damaged skin, which causes oxygen and nutrients to surround the injured area. It also boosts elastin, a protein that makes the skin stretch. This helps to relax scar tissue so it can go back to its natural joint movement.
Red Light Therapy for Animal Bites
Depending on the severity of the wound, animal bites can cause swelling, bleeding, and may even get infected. If you are ever bitten by a dog, cat, or any other animal, seek medical attention immediately.
Once you're on the mend, red light therapy is an excellent remedy for speeding up the wound healing process. Red light can help with reducing inflammation, remove dead skin cells, increase circulation and blood flow, enhance the growth of collagen, and reduce the appearance of scars.
Red Light Therapy vs. IPL Treatment for Bruises
What is IPL Treatment?
Intense pulsed light (IPL) is a gentle form of treatment that uses very intense light frequencies to help improve the skin's condition. People who seek this form of treatment often suffer from conditions such as port-wine stains, wrinkles, acne, rosacea, age marks (or freckles), telangiectasia (dilation of the capillaries), and vascular lesions.
The Difference Between Red Light Therapy and IPL Treatments
There are similarities between IPL treatment and red light therapy, especially in terms of treating bruising and skin ailments. The differences relate to how they treat skin ailments. Although red light and IPL are both non-invasive treatments, using red light therapy for bruises is completely painless, whereas IPL can sometimes be painful.
IPL treatment targets the lower layers of skin and does not affect the top layers of the epidermis. During treatment, there are also potential side effects such as:
- Skin being sore and turning a pinkish color shortly after treatment
- Hair loss
- Bruising (about 10 percent of patients)
- Dark patches of skin may appear in the treated area
- Pain during the procedure (anesthesia and contact cooling are used if necessary)
Again, the main difference between IPl and red light therapy is that IPL can be painful and has more side effects. Red Light therapy, on the other hand, is pain-free and may only cause damage to the skin if exposed to too much light.
Start Caring for Your Bruises with Red Light Therapy
Whether you're treating damaged skin or sore muscles, red light therapy is a great addition to your overall wellness. Whether you are uncomfortable with bruises from surgeries, exercising, or an injury, red light treatments will fade skin discoloration and restore your skin's condition.
Whether for pain relief, skin discoloration issues, bruising, vein issues, athletic recovery, or other ailments, PlatinumLED Therapy Lights has your back. Visit our Learning Center to learn more about the many benefits of this treatment and how to use light therapy equipment for your at-home setup, including the BIOMAX mounting systems.
When you're ready to start getting relief, check out our excellent collection of premium red light therapy systems for your home or business.