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Bruises also called contusions develop when small blood vessels under the skin tear or rupture, most often from a bump or fall. A hematoma is similar, but more concentrated giving the skin a spongy, rubbery, lumpy feel.
They can also be caused by a muscle pulls or muscle tears, Vigorous exercise, or an leaking aneurysm (balloon-like bulge of a blood vessel).

Bruises are the second most common sports injury after strains, and although not considered a serious injury, they can cause mild discomfort and create quite a nasty looking discoloration on the skin.

Bruises change colors over time in a predictable pattern, so that it is possible to estimate when an injury occurred by the color of the bruise. Initially, a bruise will be reddish, the color of the blood under the skin. After one to two days, the red blood cells begin to break down, and the bruise will darken to a blue or purplish color. This fades to green at about day six. Around the eighth or ninth day, the skin over the bruised area will have a brown or yellowish appearance, and it will gradually diminish back to its normal color.

Special conditions:
Bruises also develop easily in the elderly, because the skin and blood vessels have a tendency to become t fragile with aging. In the condition known as purpura senilis, the elderly develop bruises from minimal contact that may take up to several months to completely heal.
People with vitamin C deficiencies bruise more easily than others.

The use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen (Advil) and naproxen (Aleve) may lead to increased bruising. Aspirin, antidepressants, asthma medications, and cortisone medications also have this effect. The anti-clotting medications also known as blood thinners, especially the drug warfarin (Coumadin) also increase risk of bruising.
Sources: Much of the above is taken from Bruises at Encyclopedia.com
See Links below for other sources./

Bruise treatment that lessens hemorrhaging (RICE):

  • Rest
  • Ice - Start applying ice or cold packs as soon as possible This also decreases blood vessel hemorrhaging and immune response causing edema (accumulation of fluid beneath the skin,)
  • Compression
  • Elevation
The most common recommendation is to apply ice for 20 minutes every 2 hours for the first 48 to 72 hours.
20 minutes may be too long for people sensitive to cold (children and elderly people ). Well conditioned athletes, they can leave ice on for much longer.

Do not use non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) [aspirin and ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin), naproxen (Aleve or Naprosyn) or ketoprofen (Actron or Orudis) ] for the first 24 hours after an injury that caused a bruise. NSAIDs may prolong bleeding under the skin.

After 3 days:

  • Heat
  • Moderate exercise
  • Massage
  • Drink plenty of fluid
  • Topical applications are usually recommend to speed healing and to reduce the pain associated with bruises. Vitamin K, Astringent herbs such as witch hazel , Hamamelis virginiana, or the homeopathic remedy, Arnica montana.
    Applying shredded raw potato directly to the injury for about an hour has also been recommended.
  • Diet: Calcium and magnesium are helpful in healing bruises;

You will see a range of recommendations as to when to start applying heat.

Hematoma at www.home-remedies-for-you.com
You can use an ice pack 3 to 4 times a day. If the arm is sprained, wrap it with an elasticized bandage in between the ice treatments. On the third day, apply hot compress instead of ice. For the heat treatment use heat lamps, hot soaks, or heating pads. Massage the area gently to decrease the swelling. A hematoma responds well by and decreasing its swelling.

After your hematoma has fully formed, apply heat, using something like warm towels or heating pad. This promotes bruise treatment re-absorption and blood vessel repair.
Apply ice packs to the injured area immediately after the injury and hold pressure. The ice pack must be kept on for at least 20 minutes. It may be alternated with a heat pack for the next 48 hours. Although a bruise may be reduced by this method, it will have to undergo the appropriate stages of healing. It will change color from red to purple to yellow to brown.
Basophils, the rarest of the white cells, release heparin, which dissolves old clots. Links:
Bruises at Encyclopedia.com
MoonDragon's Health & Wellness Information - Bruising
Bruising at Herbs2000.com
Bruises and Muscle Contusions - Get rid of that bruise quickly

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last updated 1 Oct 2009