A few bumps and bruises during the hustle and bustle of everyday life is no shocker. You hit your knee on the door or bump your hip on a desk, and let’s not forget all those small bangs on the bedside table on the way to the bathroom at night. It’s all fine when the pain goes away, but then you realize you’re left with a little reminder of your accident on your body. So, how do you get rid of it? Dena Nader, MD, Regional Medical Director for MedExpress, has some advice to share on the topic.

Bruises happen when blood leaks out of the small blood vessels under our skin and create the dark, purple color so commonly seen, says Dr. Nader. So what do you do? Take immediate action. Place an ice bag or a cold compress over the affected area to help reduce the inflammation. Applying something cold to the area slows the flow of the blood vessels, which controls the coloring of the bruise. Apply 10 minutes on and 20 minutes off, several times a day.

But what to do about those bruises that you’ve just recently noticed and have no idea how long they’ve been there? “If the swelling is gone, you can use a warm compress–essentially promoting the opposite behavior of the cold compress,” Dr. Nader said. “At this stage, heat will prompt blood flow to the area, ushering away any pooled up blood in the area.”

One thing you should avoid is pressing on the bruise and trying to break up the blood beneath the skin. This can lead to further soreness and bruising.

Typically, bruises clear up within five to seven days, according to Dr. Nader. However, the length can depend entirely on the severity of the bruise. If you notice the bruise isn’t going away and feel tenderness and pain, you should see a doctor, as there can be an underlying injury. Frequently noticing bruises and can’t figure out why? You should consult your doctor, as it could be a sign of a serious condition.

Related: 10 Reasons Why You’re Bruising Easily


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