A bruise or contusion is basically a skin coloration that occurs after the soft tissue has incurred trauma. Bruises typically develop once the small blood vessels under the skin rupture and the blood leaks into the soft tissue under the skin. Take note that bruises are considered as common injuries in sports due to impact or collision. In some cases, you might not be even aware that you already have a bruise.
Bruises are categorized in three types – subcutaneous, intramuscular and periosteal. With the subcutaneous bruises, it develops under the skin while the intramuscular bruises occur within the muscles. As for the periosteal bruises, they are bruises to the bones. Depending on how the bruise was incurred, it is common injury that can heal over time.
Always remember that bruises can occur abruptly and can last for days or even months. They typically cause pain, tenderness and swelling over the black or bluish discoloration on the skin. Once it starts to heal, the skin discoloration will start to lighten into a greenish color and eventually yellow.
How to treat bruises
Bruises are quite similar to other soft tissue injuries. When delivering first aid care for bruises, there are certain steps that you have to follow.
- Right after the injury was incurred; use the RICE method – rest, ice, compression and elevation for the initial 24 hours to 48 hours. The affected part should be rested primarily. Always remember not to apply ice directly on the affected area for more than 15-20 minutes at a time. If the application of ice is prolonged, it can lead to frostbite. Do not forget to elevate the affected part.
- After the first day to two, it is time to switch to the heat compress but it should not be left for more than 20 minutes at a time. The affected part should still be elevated if possible. As for compression, take note that it is not useful at this time.
- For pain relief, over-the-counter medications such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen can be given.
Important considerations when treating bruises
It is a known fact that the RICE method has been the standard method of treating bruises. In most cases, some individuals already have a bruise that is already healing. If not given the appropriate measures stated, you do not have to worry since bruises can heal on their own over time.
In case you are more prone to bruises than others similar to your age and gender, it is best to consult your doctor. Excessive bruising can indicate anemia, which is a medical condition that occurs due to lack of iron in the blood. The best way to maintain adequate levels of iron is to eat adequate amounts of green leafy vegetables.