Bruises occur when small blood vessels under the skin tear or rupture, most often from a twist, bump, or fall. Blood leaks into tissues under the skin and causes a black-and-blue spot that often turns colors, including purplish black, reddish blue, or yellowish green, as the bruise heals.
Bruises hurt, but most are not serious and will go away on their own within 2 to 4 weeks. Sometimes, gravity causes them to spread down the body. A leg bruise usually will take longer to heal than a bruise on the face or arms.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
How can you care for yourself at home?
- Take pain medicines exactly as directed.
- If the doctor gave you a prescription medicine for pain, take it as prescribed.
- If you are not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask your doctor if you can take an over-the-counter medicine.
- Put ice or a cold pack on the area for 10 to 20 minutes at a time. Put a thin cloth between the ice and your skin.
- If you can, prop up the bruised area on pillows as much as possible for the next few days. Try to keep the bruise above the level of your heart.
When should you call for help?
Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:
- You have signs of infection, such as:
- Increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness.
- Red streaks leading from the bruise.
- Pus draining from the bruise.
- A fever.
- You have a bruise on your leg and signs of a blood clot, such as:
- Increasing redness and swelling along with warmth, tenderness, and pain in the bruised area.
- Pain in your calf, back of the knee, thigh, or groin.
- Redness and swelling in your leg or groin.
- Your pain gets worse.
Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:
- You do not get better as expected.
Where can you learn more?
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