This article will share some natural remedies for getting rid of bruises.
In addition to home remedies, we recommend checking out our red light therapy panels, which have a variety of benefits in addition to their wound-healing qualities.
How Do You Know if a Bruise is Serious?
Bruises form when small blood vessels called capillaries are damaged due to blunt trauma.
They can be visible on the skin, or they can be deep in the muscles or even bones, where they cause pain but do not always manifest in visible discoloration.
When should you see a doctor? Most bruises eventually go away on their own, even deep muscle or bone bruises. However, severe trauma can damage nerves, muscles, organs, or even bones.
Do you have a bruise, contusion, or hematoma? These terms are often used interchangeably but they’re not exactly the same. ‘Contusion’ is a medical term for a bruise. Hematomas are larger, deeper, and more serious.
Here’s when to get a bruise checked out.
- Bruises on the head or face: seek medical attention if bruising is accompanied by headaches, blurry vision, nosebleeds, nausea and vomiting, confusion, and slurred speech which can signal a concussion
- Bruising accompanied by blood in the urine or stool
- Extremely large, painful bruises (these can lead to dangerous blood clots)
- Numbness, weakness, and loss of limb function
- Severe pain and swelling
- A hard lump under the bruise
- Severe pain lasting longer than 2-3 days (bruises can be tender for a week or more, but shouldn't be severely painful)
- Bruising discoloration lasting more than a few weeks
Fortunately, most bruises usually heal within two weeks of the trauma. Here are some tips for treating them at home.
Natural Topical Remedies for Bruises
These topical remedies support the healing process of superficial bruises beneath the skin.
Often used to reduce pain and discomfort from sunburn, pure aloe vera gel can also reduce inflammation in a bruised area. Apply aloe to the bruise several times a day.
Arnica gel helps reduce inflammation and swelling. Apply arnica gream or gel to the bruise several times a day.
Bromelain is an anti-inflammatory enzyme found in pineapple. Bromelain cream can be applied directly to the bruise several times daily.
Apply comfrey cream to the bruise several times a day to treat inflammation. You can also make a warm compress. Put comfrey leaves in boiling water for 10 minutes, drain the liquid, apply the leaves to the skin and wrap it with a bandage.
Crush peeled or unpeeled ginger root in a garlic press, apply to the bruise, and wrap with a bandage to reduce inflammation. Leave it on overnight, and repeat for 1-2 days.
Applying heat helps increase the circulation of blood and lymph to help break up blood that has leaked out of broken blood vessels. Heat can feel much more soothing than an ice pack. Heat also helps relieve pain and relax tense muscles.
Apply a hot compress or heating pad to the bruise several times a day. A soak in a hot bath or a hot tub can be very soothing.
Witch hazel is an astringent that helps reduce irritation, pain and swelling. Apply witch hazel to the bruise with a cotton ball several times daily.
R.I.C.E. (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation)
This popular remedy for sports injuries also helps treat bruises.
- Rest is the most important thing you can do to support healing. Though mild exercise can help get rid of a bruise, rest activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for healing.
- Apply an ice pack (or a bag of frozen peas) as soon as possible after the injury to reduce the amount of leakage from damaged blood vessels. Apply the ice pack for 20 minutes at a time every 4 hours.
- Compression slows blood leakage, reduces swelling, eases pain and discomfort, and can reduce the severity of the bruise. Use an elastic bandage or compression sock for 1-2 days, being careful not to cut off circulation.
- Elevating the bruised area above the heart will help with fluid drainage.
Vitamin C, Vitamin E, and Vitamin K for Bruise Healing
Vitamin creams or oils can help speed up the healing.
- Vitamin C is an anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant. You can apply it as a cream to the bruise, or take it as a supplement.
- Vitamin E oil is an antioxidant that supports cell and tissue reconstruction, especially when combined with vitamin C.
- Vitamin K helps with clotting. When applied immediately after an injury, it can help prevent more blood loss. It can also help reduce the severity of bruising. This cream can be gently applied to the bruises several times daily.
What about deeper bruises? Here's how to treat them.
Exercise to Heal Deep Muscle and Bone Bruises
Low-impact exercise and functional movements promoting a full range of motion can be a surprisingly effective way to accelerate deep muscle and bone bruise healing.
When you move, you activate the lymphatic system and increase blood flow.
Physical movement is the only way to stimulate lymph flow. The lymphatic system flushes toxins and waste including trapped blood, but it cannot function without physical movement. Muscle contractions act like a pump to push lymph through the body. At the same time, exercise promotes blood flow to bring oxygen and nutrients to the injury.
Of course, you don’t want to aggravate your injury, but in many cases slow, low-impact movement such as walking, cycling, swimming, yoga, or tai chi feels good and helps get things moving.
You may notice that the bruise may get smaller and less tender after a day or two of exercise.
Now that we’ve discussed some of the basic remedies, let’s explore a no-contact, noninvasive, natural remedy to speed up the healing of superficial and deep bruises: red light therapy.
Red Light Therapy for Bruises
Red light therapy involves a therapy device that shines red and/or near-infrared wavelengths of light onto the skin. The light absorbs into the skin and subcutaneous tissue, where it sparks biological processes that support healing.
This treatment uses red wavelengths and near-infrared wavelengths. Red light can treat superficial bruises, whereas longer near-infrared wavelengths absorb beneath the skin to treat muscle or bone bruises.
Red light therapy is even more effective when used simultaneously with blue light therapy for full body treatment, as is the case with our new BIOMAX Panels.
How does red light therapy treat bruises? There are four primary mechanisms that will help the injury heal and accelerate flushing trapped blood out of your body.
In response to an injury, the body quickly sends inflammatory cells and cytokines to the area. Cytokines are signaling molecules that stimulate the production of more inflammatory cells. Inflammatory cells protect the body by trapping bacteria and other pathogens. This begins the healing process. Visibly, it manifests as swelling and redness.
Once the inflammatory process is no longer needed, red light suppresses inflammation to prevent chronic inflammation which slows healing.
Red light therapy promotes the circulation of blood and lymph through a process called angiogenesis. This is the formation of new capillaries from existing vessels and through vasodilation, or the temporary widening of vessels. New capillaries bring immune cells, nutrients, and oxygen to the injury.
At the same time, red light therapy stimulates the production of endothelial cells, which form the walls of all circulatory vessels.
Increased Collagen Synthesis
Collagen proteins make up 80% of the skin, but they are also present in muscles and connective tissue. Red light therapy boosts collagen synthesis to support faster healing of the damaged area.
Increased Cellular Energy Production
One of the most exciting findings on red light therapy involves the ability of red and near-infrared wavelengths to stimulate energy production in the cells. Light photons absorb into the cells where they excite the mitochondria and stimulate the production of more adenosine triphosphate (ATP). Increased ATP production helps cells both heal faster and better perform their functions.
This has a ripple effect that sparks the three mechanisms we just discussed:
- the regulation of inflammation
- improved blood flow
- increased collagen production.
Aside from helping get rid of bruises, red light therapy supports healing and optimal health. The Learning Center is a great place to explore the dozens of ways to use red light therapy including pain relief, hair regrowth, skin rejuvenation, and more.
Certain over the counter pain medications may contribute to the onset of bruising more easily such as Aspirin, Ibuprofen, Advil, Motrin, and naproxen sodium (Aleve). When used properly, red light therapy can not only effectively manage pain but also reduce the need for over-the-counter medications that cause unwanted side effects. Many people are finding success in starting conversations with their health care providers about using photobiomodulation for pain management along with a reduction in the use of pharmaceuticals.
Functional Medicine Doctor of Physical TherapyDr. Alayna Newton, PT, DPT, FAFS
How To Treat a Bruise with Red Light Therapy
After the injury, use red light therapy as soon as possible to speed up the healing process with a daily, 10-20 minute red light therapy session. You can also use red light to accelerate the healing process once a bruise is visible.
Bruises typically appear 24-48 hours after an injury. Brand-new bruises are red because the blood that leaks out of broken vessels is still rich in oxygen.
After 1-2 days, as oxygen levels drop, the bruise changes color to purple, blue, or black. After 5-10 days, the bruise turns yellow or green, which is a sign that the body is breaking down the bruise. Finally, after 10-14 days, the bruise takes on a yellowish hue, before disappearing.
If you treat the wounded area before you see the bruise, you can support faster repair of broken blood vessels, faster tissue healing, and faster healing of bruises.
In 2006, researchers found that red light therapy accelerated healing and resulted in less bruising, swelling, and pain in patients who had undergone plastic surgery, which often results in severe bruising. In the study, patients were treated on one side of their face with 20 minutes of red LED light therapy. Compared to the non-treated side, the treatment cut healing time by one-half to one-third.
Another study showed significant improvement in bruise healing after a hip replacement procedure. After one week of treatment with near-infrared light, a large hematoma and severe bruising had been nearly completely healed.
In addition to reducing the appearance of the bruise, red light therapy will also help with pain and nerve damage that may have occurred if you have a hematoma. Nerves can be regenerated; (those that have been damaged but not completely severed). This process is stimulated by red light therapy.
You can achieve these results at home using a powerful light therapy device such as the BIOMAX 300, which is ideal for treating bruises as well as dozens of other targeted applications.
For large bruises or widespread health conditions, you'll benefit from a larger panel such as the BIOMAX 600.
The addition of a blue wavelength to the BIOMAX panels means that they have even more widespread, synergistic treatment benefits.
Red Light Therapy Solutions
Red light therapy can help get rid of bruises and take you from bruised to healed much faster than the standard two-week healing timeline. Along the way, it will also help manage pain and relax stiff and sore muscles.
Red light therapy also helps with a multitude of other ailments.
For example, using red light to get rid of bruises can also speed up muscle recovery and support nerve regeneration in diabetic neuropathy.
Here’s a closer look at the industry-leading BIOMAX series from PlatinumLED Therapy Lights, which are affordable and easy-to-use at home on a regular basis.
Meanwhile, the SaunaMAX Pro panels are meant for during-sauna treatment.
For more information, the Learning Center is a great resource where you can learn about how red light therapy can benefit your health.