5 Ways to Reduce Bruising and Swelling

Photo Courtesy: Pornchai Soda

Bruises and swelling are a natural part of the body’s healing process, but they are also unsightly and uncomfortable. While it is impossible to avoid them entirely, there are some ways to help you heal faster and more effectively. If you have a bruise after an injury or surgery, consider trying these easy methods to reduce it.

Ice, Then Heat

Icing the bruised or swollen areas is one of the easiest and most effective ways to reduce swelling and stop the spread of the bruise. Apply ice as soon as possible after the injury and frost the area for about 48 hours. Do not apply the ice for too long without a break to prevent damage to your skin. After 48 hours, switch to heat. Warm compresses encourage circulation, which brings healing nutrients to the area. It can also help ease any residual pain. Consult your doctor before using warm compresses if the site is still swollen.


Gentle compression for the first 24 to 48 hours can help restrict blood flow, which reduces the spread of bruising and swelling. Only apply pressure from your hand; do not apply tight bandages or other severely restrictive materials to the injured area. Restricting circulation too much can cause harmful effects.


If the injured area is below your heart, try resting in a position that elevates it. This also slows down blood flow to the site. Use a pillow or other comfortable surface to prop up your injured limb and listen to your body. If your limb starts falling asleep or feeling uncomfortable, give it a break to restore circulation.

The Right Medications

Several over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs are safe and effective in reducing bruising and swelling. Ibuprofen and acetaminophen are two common drugs. Ibuprofen is more effective against inflammation, so it is a good choice when trying to reduce swelling. Still, it may have side effects, and there are contraindications when you are not allowed to take it. Please talk to your doctor before taking any medications.

Herbal Remedies

Arnica is a popular and generally safe herb that can effectively treat bruising and swelling. You can apply it topically to the affected area for a more targeted dose, but do not apply it to broken skin. Certain ingredients in fruits and vegetables may also speed your healing. Bromelain, which comes from pineapple stems, has strong anti-inflammatory properties.

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