Bruise is a medical term used to describe a common skin discoloration caused by breakage of tiny vessels underneath the skin after an injury or trauma. When a capillary (or a vessel) breaks, it causes leakage of blood and its content into the surrounding area leading to pooling of blood underneath the skin which gives a discoloured look to the skin. The symptoms usually vary from individual to individual. In most of the cases, the area appears bluish-purple initially and turns yellow-green as the area heals.
How Long Do Bruise Last?
The amount of time required by a bruise to heal depends on multiple factors such as location of the bruise, severity of the injury, underlying medical issues etc. The healing time varies from person to person. While some may be sensitive or more prone to bruising, in some people the bruise fades away comparatively much faster. Each individual is different and thus a standard healing time cannot be determined.
For example, older people (particularly above the age of 60) are more prone to bruising than the younger population, likely because they have thinner skin and their blood vessels are very fragile. Women generally take longer time to heal than men. Bruising can also be influenced by family inheritance. Certain medications and underlying medical conditions can have a delaying effect over healing of bruises.
In majority of the cases, the bruise heals completely within 2 to 4 weeks. Bruises over legs tend to take longer time to heal as compared with the bruises over face and arms. However, if the bruise lingers around for more than 4 weeks and it is associated with symptoms such as pain, it is advised to get it evaluated by an experienced physician to rule out any serious medical issues. Long lasting bruises are rare and may indicate that the severity of the trauma may have been worse than initially thought. It may also indicate presence of other medical issues such as diabetes or haemophilia which affects the healing process. It has been noted, bruising improves with herbal medication called Arnica.
Based on location of the bruise, the average amount of time taken by the bruise to heal is discussed below:
- Bruising on Face: Bruising on face usually heals faster than bruises over legs. This is because of increased vascularity and blood supply in the facial region. The bruise may appear bluish purple for the first 5 days and it then take a yellowish-green shade. The bruise fades away completely within 14 days.
- Bruising on Arms: The natures of bruises on arms are similar to bruises on the face. As a thumb rule, the bruise heals within 14 days. However, if it does not heal within the expected time, medical attention is advised.
- Bruising over Lips: Bruises over lips are usually small in size and thus heals quite quickly. It can take up to 10 days for a lip bruise to heal.
- Bruising after giving Blood: Under normal circumstances, there should not be any bruising after giving blood. Bruising can result from poor skills of the technician or due to small and fussy veins. Either ways, the bruise should disappear within 14 days.
Permanent bruising is a very rare phenomenon. It occurs when the pigments in the blood (which leaks from a vessel after an injury) stains or tattoos the skin. In some cases, bruises takes years to heal and may appear as a permanent discoloration. In such cases, it is highly recommended to consult a doctor at the earliest.
Management of Bruising
Most treatment of bruising are effective immediately after the trauma incident has occurred, while the bruise is still fresh. Some of the effective ways of managing a bruise are mentioned below:
Cold Compresses: Applying cold compress over the bruise intermittently (only for first 48 hours after an injury) can help in controlling the bruise and it also helps in reducing the pain associated with a bruise. Care should be taken not to apply the cold compresses directly; the ice bag should be wrapped in a towel before applying the compresses.
Warm Compresses for Bruise Management: After 40 hours of injury, warm compress over the bruise helps in accelerating healing. Warm compression should be applied for 10 minutes for 2 to 3 times a day.
Elevation of the Bruised Area: Elevating the bruised area for 24 hours after an injury can help in controlling the bruise. This is particularly beneficial with leg bruises (called as leg elevation) and other large sized bruises.
Pain Killer to Manage Bruise: Over-the-counter pain killer such as Tylenol and Advil is effective in controlling the pain and inflammation associated with the bruise. Care should be taken to avoid intake of Aspirin, as it make the blood flow slow and can slow down the healing process.
Home Remedies for Managing Bruises: A few home remedies such as application of apple cider vinegar and warm water compresses, Epsom salt baths, homeopathic medication such as Arnica Montana aids in healing of bruises. Applying black tea bags or green tea bags directly over the bruise can be helpful as in contains a chemical called as tannin which helps in narrowing the blood vessels and prevents discoloration of skin. Application of Aloe Vera gel can also fasten the healing process.
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