Whether you have a bruised face, bruised arm or bruised knee, most people just find bruises to be unsightly and unpleasant. Most of the time, they’re nothing serious, yet knowing how get rid of bruises faster is a popular topic.
Bruises are caused by an injury or blow to a specific body part that breaks blood vessels underneath the skin. Blood seeps out of the vessels, causing discoloration, swelling and pain.
Bruises can also be caused by nutrient deficiencies, the use of certain medications or bleeding disorders. Women also typically bruise easier than men. (1)
If you’re wondering how to get rid of bruises fast, there are are a lot of natural bruise remedies that can help, and they’re not hard or complicated at all! Plus, I’ll answer some common bruise-related questions, including: how long does it take for a bruise to heal?
What Is a Bruise?
A bruise appears on the skin when an area of the body experiences some type of trauma that causes small blood vessels under the skin to rupture and leak out blood. Since the blood has nowhere to go, it gets trapped under the skin and pools, forming a colorful spot on the skin that is tender to the touch. This is a bruise, also called a contusion, and it’s not permanent because your body reabsorbs the blood after some amount of time and the bruise completely disappears.
Bruises can occur for various reasons, but most are caused by bumping or banging into something. These colorful marks can also occur because someone or something bumps into you.
How long does a bruise take to heal?
If you’re wondering how to get rid of bruises in 24 hours, I’m sorry to tell you it’s a pretty impossible goal. It generally takes about two, maybe three, weeks for a bruise due to a minor injury or accident to heal. Sometimes it may take months depending on the severity of the bruise. A few weeks of healing time is also without treatment, so it may be faster if you use some of the natural remedies I’m about to share with you. But before a bruise completely goes away, it goes through several stages. (2, 3)
Stages of Bruising
As a bruise heals, hemoglobin (an iron-rich substance found in blood) breaks down into other compounds. This break down process causes a bruise to change colors and go through the following stages of bruising: (4)
Stage 1: A bruise is typically red right after the injury, because fresh blood rich in oxygen is gathering underneath the skin.
Stage 2: Within one to two days, a bruise begins to change color, and by day three or four, it will often be a purplish or black and blue.
Stage 3: After five to 10 days have passed, your bruise will likely appear yellow or greenish-yellow. These colors come from compounds called biliverdin and bilirubin that the body produces when it breaks down hemoglobin.
Stage 4: In 10–14 days, it’s yellowish-brown or light brown.
10 Natural Bruise Remedies
Wondering, “How can I make a bruise go away faster?” Let’s take a good look at how to make bruises go away using natural bruise remedies.
1. Cold & Hot
How do you treat a bad bruise? You want to start by applying some coldness. For the first 24 hours, it’s commonly recommended to apply an ice pack to the bruised area. Wrap the ice pack in a thin towel so it’s not in direct contact with your skin. A cold compress like an ice pack will help to decrease swelling. It can also help to reduce any pain or discomfort you’re experiencing as a result of the bruise. A day or two after you get a bruise, you can apply a warm compress, or take a warm bath, to aid healing. (5)
If you’re specifically looking into how to get rid of a black eye, cold is key! According to Mayo Clinic, applying a cold compress as soon as you can is key to decreasing swelling. Repeat the application of a cold compress several times a day for one to two days. Then you can do warm compresses. Be careful not to apply any pressure to the eye itself. (6)
Another one of those simple yet highly effective bruise remedies is if possible, elevate the area of your body that has the bruise. When it comes to how to get rid of bruises on legs, this is an especially doable and helpful tip. Elevating the bruised area (your shin, for example, above heart level helps to decrease swelling and bruising. Elevation helps to prevent blood from pooling in the bruised area.
3. Top Foods to Heal Bruises
As with many cosmetic or external health concerns like bruises, addressing the issue internally is just as important, if not sometimes more important, than the natural bruise remedies you use topically on your skin. If you’re wondering how to get rid of bruises fast, you’ll want to consider consuming more foods that will promote healing and also even discourage bruising in the first place. These include:
Green leafy vegetables — Veggies like kale, collard greens and spinach provide vitamin K, which is essential for blood clotting. Severe vitamin K deficiency is also known to contribute to bruising and bleeding problems. (7)
Citrus fruits (and other colorful fruits and veggies) — Citrus provides vitamin C and bioflavonoids that help with wound healing.
Zinc — The chemical reactions necessary to promote wound healing require zinc. To increase your intake of zinc, add high zinc foods to your diet, like grass-fed beef, pumpkin seeds and spinach.
Clean, lean protein — Healthy, high-quality protein is helpful for strengthening blood vessels and encouraging their repair after a bruise-causing injury. (8) Aim for at least four to five ounces per meal daily.
4. Foods to Avoid
Healing bruises is not just about what you add to your diet, but also about what you take away. I highly recommend avoiding the following foods that are counterproductive to bruise healing and overall health:
Sugar — Refined sugar promotes inflammatory responses in the body and is counterproductive to healing. In general, diets high in sugar, refined starches and saturated and trans-fats but low in omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants and fiber are known for encouraging inflammation. (9)
Trans fats — Trans fats are known for triggering inflammation throughout the entire body. Trans fats can be found in fast foods, fried products and processed foods. (10)
Processed foods — Not only do they often contain trans fat, but they also may contain chemicals, dyes and other unhealthy additives.
White and wheat products — These can act as anti-nutrients, pulling beneficial vitamins and minerals out of your body.
5. Essential Oils
Frankincense essential oil is highly anti-inflammatory, making it a great choice for bruise healing. (11) Rub a couple of drops of frankincense oil directly on the bruised area three times daily. If you have sensitive skin, dilute the frankincense oil with a carrier oil first. If you’re curious how to reduce bruising on face, frankincense oil is a great choice, but make sure to keep it away from your eyes.
You can also try making this bruise cream with arnica and bilberry yourself at home. It’s loaded with beneficial ingredients like frankincense oil to help get rid of a bruise fast!
7. Vitamin C
Vitamin C is an antioxidant that helps to manufacture collagen, which is critical for healing damaged blood vessels. People that bruise easily also sometimes have low blood levels of vitamin C. Increasing dietary intake of vitamin C as well as supplementing with this key nutrient has been shown to improve bruising. (14)
Bioflavonoids like rutin help strengthen the capillaries, which makes them helpful for healing bruises. A small, preliminary trial published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology gave subjects with progressive pigmented purpura (a chronic bruising disorder) 1,000 milligrams of vitamin C plus 100 milligrams of rutin per day. After four weeks, noticeable bruising was no longer apparent and did not recur in the three-month period after treatment was stopped. (15)
Rutin can be found in prunes, apricots, rose hips, the whitish rind of citrus fruits and the core of green peppers. It can also be taken as a supplement alone or in a bioflavonoid complex.
9. Arnica Oil
Arnica is another one of the most popular natural bruise remedies. In fact, arnica is commonly used topically for the pain and swelling that results from bruises, sprains and even arthritis. (16) Scientific research has also shown the benefits of using arnica for bruises. For example, a study published in the British Journal of Dermatology reveals how a topical treatment containing 20 percent arnica was able to speed up bruise healing better than a placebo or a low level vitamin K topical treatment. (17)
Apply arnica oil or gel over the area of the bruise twice daily as long as the bruised skin area is unbroken.
Can toothpaste get rid of bruises? Some people claim it can! Perhaps if you use a natural toothpaste containing peppermint oil, it may help to increase circulation and blood flow to the area, which may help to improve the bruise. Can’t hurt to try!
Contact your doctor if you: (18)
- Experience very painful swelling in the bruised area
- Have frequent, large and/or painful bruises, especially if the bruises appear on your trunk, back or face, or seem to develop for no reason
- Notice a lump (hematoma) form over the bruise
- Still have pain three days after a seemingly minor injury
- Have easy bruising and a history of significant bleeding, such as during a surgical procedure
- Observe abnormal bleeding in other places such as from your nose or gums
- Suddenly start bruising, but have no history of bruising
- Have a family history of easy bruising or bleeding
According to Mayo Clinic, these are some of the signs and symptoms that may indicate a more serious problem such as a blood-clotting problem or blood-related disease which needs to be addressed. (18)
If you get a black eye, seek medical care immediately if you have vision problems, severe pain, bruising around both eyes or bleeding in an eye or from the nose.
If any topical bruise remedy causes a reaction, discontinue use. When using essential oils, it’s always a good idea to perform a patch test first and use a carrier oil to decrease the risk for skin sensitivity.
Speak with your doctor before using any natural bruise remedies if you have a medical condition or are currently taking medication.
If you’re experiencing unexplained or easier bruising, you should check to see if you are currently taking any medications or supplements that could cause increased bruising.
- Bruises are caused by an injury or blow to a specific body part that breaks blood vessels underneath the skin.
- A bruise goes through color stages as your body works to heal itself, so remember that it’s completely normal for a bruise to change color over time.
- How long do bruises last? Generally, two to three weeks without treatment, but the time frame may be shorter if you use natural bruise remedies.
- How to treat bruises naturally:
- Use a cold compresses first, then warm compresses/baths.
- Elevate the bruised area if you can.
- Eat the right foods to encourage bruise healing, including leafy greens, citrus fruits, high zinc foods and clean protein.
- Avoid unhealthy choices that promote inflammation and discourage healing such as high sugar, processed and fast foods.
- Apply essential oils like frankincense and cypress to bruised areas.
- Increase intake of foods with bromelain, vitamin C and bioflavonoids and/or try these natural bruise remedies in supplement form.
- Try arnica oil or ointment, which is a well-known natural bruise remedy.