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Jay Koovarjee

 92 Pitt St
Sydney NSW 2000
ph: (02) 9221 0091
fax: (02) 8880-8326

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:: In Brief


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:: Bruises

Injuries & Wounds - Bruises
  Injuries & Wounds

A bruise, also called a contusion or ecchymosis, is an injury to biological tissue in which the capillaries are damaged, allowing blood to seep into the surrounding tissue. It is usually caused by blunt impact. Bruises often induce pain but are not normally dangerous.

Sometimes bruises can be serious, leading to other more life threatening forms of hematoma, or can be associated with serious injuries, including fractures and internal bleeding. Minor bruises may be easily recognised, in people with light skin color, by their characteristic blue or purple appearance (idiomatically described as "black and blue") in the days following the injury.

Signs & Symptoms:

Initially, a fresh bruise may actually be reddish. It will then turn blue or dark purple within a few hours, then yellow or green after a few days as it heals.

A bruise is commonly tender, and sometimes even painful for the first few days, but the pain usually goes away as the color fades.
Because the skin is not broken in a bruise as with a scrape or cut there is no risk of infection. 

You should seek medical advice if the following conditions develop:

  • bruises appear for no reason
  • a bruise does not heal
  • after a blow to the eye, there is blurred vision or
  • two black eyes occur after being hit in the head 

The most common cause of bruising is a blow or severe pressure to the area affected, or in response to an accidental or surgical wound.


If your bruise does not require an evaluation by a health professional, you may be able to use home treatment to help relieve pain, swelling, and stiffness.  Use the RICE method:

  • Rest and protect a bruised area
  • Ice will reduce pain and swelling. Apply ice or cold packs immediately to prevent or minimize swelling. Apply the ice or cold pack for 10 to 20 minutes, 3 or more times a day
  • Compression, or wrapping the bruised area with an elastic bandage, will help decrease swelling. Don't wrap it too tightly, as this can cause more swelling below the affected area. Loosen the bandage if it gets too tight. Signs that the bandage is too tight include numbness, tingling, increased pain, coolness, or swelling in the area below the bandage
  • Elevate the bruised area on pillows while applying ice and anytime you are sitting or lying down. Try to keep the area at or above the level of your heart to help minimize swelling

Gently massage or rub the area to relieve pain and encourage blood flow. Do not massage the bruised area if it causes pain.  For the first 48 hours after an injury, avoid things that might increase swelling, such as hot showers, hot tubs, hot packs, or alcoholic beverages

Further Information:


Ask Your Pharmacist about:

  • treatment of bruises 

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