• Apply ice as soon as possible. When you cool the blood vessels around the bruised area, less blood leaks into the surrounding tissue. Flexible gel-filled ice packs, specifically designed for injuries, are available from sports shops and athletes will usually keep a couple of them in the freezer. For most of us, a bag of frozen peas wrapped in a towel is perfectly adequate. Or soak a flannel in ice-cold water and lay it over the bruise for 10 minutes. Whatever chilling agent you use, remove it after 10 minutes and wait for 20 minutes or so before you re-apply it so you don't overchill the skin underneath.


  • Reduce bloodflow to the bruise to minimize discoloration. If you bruise your leg, for instance, and you can take a break, settle into a sofa or armchair with your leg up on a pillow above heart level. If your arm is bruised, try to keep it propped above heart level whenever you're sitting.

  • Stop taking medications that make bruises worse. Consult with your doctor appropriately before stopping any medication:[1]




    • ibuprofen [Advil, Nuprin] (but ibuprofen can be taken if you need pain relief[2])

    • naproxen [Aleve]


    • aspirin

    • warfarin (Coumadin) - prescribed to prevent clotting, can cause particularly severe bruising

    • Cortisone medications (e.g. prednisone) - promote bruising by increasing the fragility of the tiny blood vessels in the skin



  • Apply gentle pressure with your hand (not with a tourniquet).[3]

  • Apply heat after 48 hours of cooling the bruise to bring more circulation to the area and help to clear away the pooled blood. Apply a warm washcloth to the bruise for 10 minutes or so 2 or 3 times a day.[2]


  • Gently massage the bruise and surrounding area several times a day beginning the day after the bruising occurs. This will help the normal lymphatic process to clear it away. Be gentle! The pressure should not be painful.