How to Care for a Black & Blue Injury

Also known as, a contusion, bruise or ecchymosis, a black and blue injury results from a blow to muscle and tissue that leaves the skin intact. Kids Health explains that when a black and blue injury occurs, blood capillaries burst and blood seeps out under the skin. The broken blood capillaries are what give the bruise its black and blue appearance. In most cases, a bruise will disappear on its own within two weeks. Caring for a black and blue injury will help to reduce the size of the bruise and relieve some of the pain associated with it.

Close-up of a bruise on a leg. (Image: pimonpim/iStock/Getty Images)

Step 1

Apply a cold compress to the black and blue injury for approximately 20 minutes immediately following the injury. After the initial 20 minutes, apply the cold compress every hour for the next 24 hours.

Step 2

Switch to a hot compress after the first 24 hours. Just like the cold compress, the hot compress requires application to the black and blue injury for approximately 20 minutes every hour. Continue applying the hot compress every hour for 48 hours.

Step 3

Elevate the bruised area for the first 24 hours following the injury. Keep the injury raised above the heart using a few pillows. Elevation will help to prevent blood from pooling in the injured area.

Step 4

Rest the black and blue injured area for the first few days. Refrain from working the muscles in the bruised area during the rest period. Decreased movement will help to decrease pain in the injured area.

Step 5

Consult a physician if your bruise has occurred for no reason or if it does not heal within two weeks. Bruising in the eye area, abnormal bleeding or severe pain associated with the bruise can be a cause for concern. A fever higher than 100.8 degrees F along with bruising also warrants a call to your physician.

Things You'll Need

  • Cold compress

  • Hot compress

  • Pillows

Tip

An ice pack wrapped in a towel works well as a compress, but if you do not have access to one, use a frozen bag of vegetables.

Check with your physician to see if acetaminophen or ibuprofen is safe for you to take. Either medication, sold over the counter, can help ease the pain in the injured area.

Warning

Never apply a cold compress or hot compress directly to your skin. Always place a towel in between the compress and your skin as a buffer.

REFERENCES & RESOURCES
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