Soft Tissue Bruise (Child)

Your child has a bruise (contusion). It happens when small blood vessels break open and leak blood into the nearby area. A bruise can result from a bump, hit, or fall. Symptoms of a bruise often include changes in skin color, swelling, and pain. It may take several hours for a deep bruise to show up. If the injury is severe, your child may need an X-ray to check for broken bones.

Depending on where the bruise is and how serious it is, pain may make it hard for your child to move the affected body part. Bruises on the back or chest may make it painful to take a deep breath.

Swelling should decrease in a few days. Bruising and pain may take several weeks to go away. Your child can gradually go back to normal activities when the swelling has gone down and he or she feels better. 

Home care

Follow these guidelines when caring for your child at home:

  • Your child’s healthcare provider may prescribe medicines for pain and inflammation. Follow all instructions for giving these to your child.

  • Have your child rest as needed. You may need to restrict your child's activities for a few days.

  • Protect the area with a soft towel or a pillow if advised by the child’s provider.

  • Use cold to help reduce swelling and pain. For babies and toddlers, wet a clean cloth with cold water, then wring it out. For older children, use a cold pack or a plastic bag of ice cubes wrapped in a thin, dry cloth  Apply the cold source to the bruised area for up to 20 minutes. Repeat this a few times a day while your child is awake. Continue for 1 or 2 days or as instructed.

  • When the swelling has gone away, start using warm compresses. This is a clean cloth that’s damp with warm water. Apply this to the area for 10 minutes, several times a day.

  • Follow any other instructions you were given.

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

Follow-up care

Follow up with your child’s healthcare provider, or as advised.

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 your child has:

  • Pain or swelling that doesn't improve or that gets worse

  • Your child has new symptoms

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