Soft Tissue Bruise (Contusion)

You have a bruise (contusion). There is swelling and some bleeding under the skin. This injury generally takes a few days to a few weeks to heal.  During that time, the bruise will typically change in color from reddish, to purple-blue, to greenish-yellow, then to yellow-brown.

Home care

  • Elevate the injured area to reduce pain and swelling. As much as possible, sit or lie down with the injured area raised about the level of your heart. This is especially important during the first 48 hours.

  • Ice the injured area to help reduce pain and swelling. Wrap an ice pack in a thin towel. Apply to the bruised area for 20 minutes every 1 to 2 hours the first day. Continue this 3 to 4 times a day until the pain and swelling goes away. You can make an ice pack by placing ice cubes in a plastic bag.

  • Unless another medicine was prescribed, you can take acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or naproxen to control pain. Talk with your doctor before using these medicines if you have chronic liver or kidney disease or ever had a stomach ulcer or digestive bleeding.

Follow-up care

Follow up with your healthcare provider, or as advised. Call if you are not better in 1 to 2 weeks.

When to seek medical advice 

Call your healthcare provider right away if you have any of the following:

  • Increased pain or swelling

  • Bruise is on an arm or leg and arm or leg becomes cold, blue, numb or tingly

  • Signs of infection: Warmth, drainage, or increased redness or pain around the contusion

  • Inability to move the injured area or body part 

  • Bruise is near your eye and you have problems with your eyesight or eye 

  • Frequent bruising for unknown reasons

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