Bruises, or contusions, occur when tiny blood vessels or capillaries underneath the skin burst. This is usually a result of some sort of trauma to the body, and often results in a blue, purple, or brown patch visible beneath the top layer of skin. Without any type of treatment, bruises usually take up to a week or more to heal, but with some treatments, this healing process can be shortened by days. Ice, compression, and heat are some treatments that many doctors believe can heal bruises faster. Other herbal and folk remedies have also been used to heal bruises.
As soon as an injury occurs, many doctors recommend that ice be applied to the area. This can be in the form of an ice pack, ice cubes, or a bag of frozen vegetables wrapped in a towel. This ice pack should be wrapped in a towel, and applied to the damaged area for no more than 30 minutes. Doing so will usually reduce any swelling in the area and prevent a major bruise from forming.
Immediately after the ice is applied, some doctors believe that the application of an elastic bandage can also help heal bruises. Wrapping an elastic bandage around the affected area can help compress the blood vessels underneath the skin. This can result in less leakage of blood from the tiny blood vessels, and reduce or eliminate the coloring of a bruise.
A few days after the ice packs and compression bandages are applied, heat can also be applied to help heal bruises. After the swelling has gone down, a heating pad or a hot wash cloth can be applied to the bruised area. Doing so will dilate the blood vessels and reduce clotting of the blood to improve circulation. This can result in less color and shorter duration of a bruise.
One of the most popular natural or homeopathic bruise cures is arnica. Arnica is also known as wolf's bane, and it is a plant with bright yellow flowers. These flowers can be toxic if ingested, but many times, arica comes in a cream or gel to help heal bruises.
Arnica cream should be applied to the bruised area every few hours throughout the day. Along with reducing the pain and swelling, this herb is also believed to reduce the color of a bruise. Other folk remedies to heal bruises involve putting various substances on a bruise, including butter, vinegar, cabbage, mustard, and onions.