Foot Bruise (Child)

Your child has a bruise (contusion) on their foot. It’s when small blood vessels break open and leak some blood into the nearby area. Bruise symptoms often include black-and-blue color, swelling, and pain. It may take several hours for a deep bruise to show up. Bruises are often minor injuries.

A foot can easily be hit or bumped and lead to a bruise. A child can trip and fall and can bruise a foot. Or a child may drop something on a foot. Bruises are also common in newborn babies after blood is drawn from the heel.

Bruises like these are first treated using RICE. This stands for rest, ice, compression, and elevation. A cold compress is put on the area. The foot may need to be protected with a brace or elastic cloth wrap. Elevating the foot above the heart can help reduce swelling. Medicine can also help ease swelling and pain. If the injury is severe, your child may need an X-ray to check for broken bones.

It may be painful for your child to move the injured foot. You’ll need to limit how much your child uses the foot for a few days. An older child may need crutches or a larger shoe for a short period of time. Your child can use the foot normally again when he or she is feeling better.

A bruise may take several weeks to go away. Swelling should get better in a few days.

Home care

Follow these guidelines when caring for your child at home:

  • Have your child rest the foot.

  • Your child’s healthcare provider may advise prescription or over-the-counter pain medicines to reduce pain and swelling. Follow all instructions for giving these to your child.

  • Use cool compresses or cold packs to help reduce swelling and pain. A cool compress is a clean cloth that’s damp with cold water. Use this on a baby or toddler. A cold pack is a gel pouch that is put in the freezer to chill. It’s then wrapped in a clean, thin, dry cloth before use. Cold packs are for older children. Place a cool compress or a cold pack on the bruised area for up to 20 minutes every 1 to 2 hours. Repeat this every hour while your child is awake. Continue for 1 or 2 days, or as instructed.

  • If the foot has an elastic cloth wrap or a brace, follow all instructions for caring for these.

  • Elevate your child's foot to help ease swelling.

    • For children 1 year and older: When sitting or lying down, have your child elevate the foot above the level of his or her heart as often as possible. Pillows can be used while sitting or sleeping to elevate his or her bruised foot.   

    • For babies younger than 12 months: A baby who is awake and observed can be placed on his or her non-injured side with the bruised foot elevated. If your baby falls asleep, move him or her to a flat, firm surface. Never use pillows for sleep or put your baby to sleep on his or her stomach or side. Babies younger than 12 months should sleep on a flat surface on their back. Don't use car seats, strollers, swings, baby carriers, or baby slings for sleep. If your baby falls asleep in one of these, move him or her to a flat, firm surface as soon as you can.

  • Once you have stopped using cool compresses or cold packs on the area, start using warm compresses. A warm compress is a clean, thin cloth that’s damp with warm water. Apply this to the area for 10 minutes, several times a day. Make sure to touch the warm compress to your own skin first to be sure it will not scald or burn.

  • Follow any other instructions you were given.

  • Keep in mind that bruising may take several weeks to go away.

Prevention

Have your child wear sturdy shoes that protect his or her feet.

Follow-up care

Follow up with your child’s healthcare provider.

Special note to parents

Healthcare providers are trained to see injuries such as this in young children as a sign of possible abuse. You may be asked questions about how your child was injured. Healthcare providers are required by law to ask you these questions. This is done to protect your child. Please try to be patient.

When to seek medical advice

Call your child's healthcare provider right away if any of these occur:

  • Bruising gets worse

  • Pain or swelling doesn't get better, or gets worse

  • Your child has new bruises and you don’t know what caused them

  • The bruise does not heal within a few weeks

  • Your child can’t walk or move the injured foot

  • Your child has a fever

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