Bruises can be rough to deal with. They’re ugly, painful, and, for some reason, always show up in the worst, least socially acceptable places.
I’m no stranger to bruises — I bang my knee on something at least once a day. And after years of purple legs and painful elbows, I decided that enough was enough: I was going to learn how to get rid of bruises, definitively, as quickly as possible.
I asked dozens of doctors, read hundreds of articles, and did everything I could to make my bruises heal faster. I applied weird ointments and creams, even going as far as to buy a mortar and pestle and grind up herbs like some medieval warlock.
The reality behind bruise home remedies
Unfortunately, I found that the vast majority of these “bruise home remedies” didn’t work. Most of them had no scientific evidence behind them, and (if anything) were actually worse for bruise healing than simply leaving it alone.
But with the bad came a small nugget of good: I did end up finding a small handful of effective bruise-busting techniques. Some of these are so exceptional that I can usually get rid of a new bruise within just a few days.
In this guide, I’ll show you all of them: 9 exceptional ways to get rid of bruises. But unlike those medieval home remedy articles, I won’t just give them to you up front.
What is bruising?
In order for you to fully learn how to do them effectively, you first need to understand the science behind what bruising is. That’s what we’ll learn next.
Simply put, bruises are internal bleeding. They’re fundamentally different from other kinds of bleeding in the following ways.
When you cut yourself, you slice open thousands of small blood vessels called capillaries along with your skin. Because your skin is now open to the environment, the blood from these vessels pours out and forms ruby-bed beads on the surface. It later crusts over and forms scabs.
Bruising bursts your capillaries
Bruises don’t pierce the skin, but they still burst your capillaries. This means that blood pools under the surface instead, collecting in small globules that hang in your tissue. This can understandably lead to swelling and tenderness. Your blood has nowhere to go, so it increases the local pressure in the area.
Because of the way your skin refracts the light, these blood globules can appear dark brown, purple, yellow, or even green when examined externally. Over time, these globules are eventually reabsorbed by the body and your skin color goes back to normal.
The trick behind fast bruise reduction
In order to make bruises go away faster, the name of the game is finding more effective ways to break up these globules. The smaller and more dispersed they are, the less impact they’ll have on your skin tone, and the faster your body will be able to reabsorb them. Simple, right?
Now that we understand how bruises work, we can start talking about how to get rid of them.
Minimize bruising by applying ice within 20 minutes to 12 hours
Once your capillaries are burst, blood begins accumulating below the skin. You can minimize flow to the capillaries by applying cold or ice as soon as possible after a big bang or injury — the cold will decrease blood flow, contract the tips of your burst capillaries, and reduce swelling.
Then, add heat to reintegrate blood globules
Twelve to twenty four hours later, your bruise will begin to form. At this point, your burst capillaries will either be reabsorbed or will have been shut off completely from normal blood supply. Now is the time to apply warmth. Light heat will improve circulation, increasing absorption of blood globules and reducing the lifespan of your bruise significantly.
Compress to minimize bruise swelling
If your bruise includes substantial swelling, combine the previous step with compression. Wrap the heating pad with an elastic band to apply light, consistent pressure to the bruised area. This will help minimize swelling and encourage dispersion of the trapped blood globules.
Elevate bruised limb to reduce severity and pain
To heal your bruise faster, you can encourage the blood globules to move and drain by enlisting the help of gravity. By elevating the bruised area, you decrease swelling, reduce pain, and help improve coloration.
Apply Arnica (a topical ointment) ASAP
Arnica reduces inflammation, and is a common topical bruise-busting treatment. It comes as both a topical ointment and an oral capsule, but most scientific evidence points to the effectiveness of the former.
Take Vitamin C to improve bruise healing times
Similar to Arnica, ascorbic acid, known colloquially as Vitamin C, also reduces inflammation and improves bruise healing times. You can apply ointments and serums or take supplements. Either way, nutrition is an important part of bruise healing that’s often overlooked — if you’re healthy to begin with, your bruise will heal much faster.
Eat pineapples within 24 hours for their bruise busting enzymes
Last on the list of oral and topical supplements is pineapple. Pineapple contains an interesting combination of enzymes called bromelain, which has been shown to help reduce local inflammation. Apply a topical paste, eat pineapple, or take bromelain supplements for the best effect.
Finally, get pulsed laser dye treatment
If you need your skin to be blemish-free quickly because of a scheduled event or photoshoot, the most effective form of bruise removal to date is pulsed dye laser treatment. Unfortunately, most people don’t have a pulsed laser machine sitting around their homes — you’d need to go to a specialized dermatologist. With pulsed dye laser treatment, ow energy lasers manually break up blood globules under the skin, which leads to significantly faster reabsorption.
If you’ve followed the tips in this guide, your bruise is now on a one-way train to Gonesville. By breaking up and encouraging blood reabsorption, you’re simultaneously improving your discoloration, reducing pain, and getting rid of your bruise.
Next time you bang your leg on the coffee table, don’t dispair! Treat it as an opportunity to test the forementioned techniques on how to get rid of bruises. If applied correctly, your bruise will be gone in a few days rather than a few weeks, and your friends & family will be none the wiser. Now you can be clumsy in secret!