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How to Treat Bruises

Bang! That’s going to leave a bruise. Though bruises eventually go away on their own, you can take steps to reduce the pain and encourage faster fading.

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You know how a bruise changes color over time? That’s your body fixing the bruise by breaking down and reabsorbing the blood.

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Ice Your Bruise

Apply ice as soon as possible. If you cool the blood vessels around the bruised area, less blood will leak out into the surrounding tissue. Many flexible ice packs are available, specifically designed for injuries, and most rough-and-tumble athletes have the foresight to keep a couple of them in the freezer. If you’re not so equipped, soak a cloth in ice-cold water and lay it over the bruise for 10 minutes. Or use a bag of frozen vegetables wrapped in a towel. Take it off after 10 minutes, and wait 20 minutes or so before you reapply the ice pack so you don’t over chill the skin underneath.

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Wrap an Elastic Bandage Around it

If you’ve bruised your arm or leg, immediately wrap an elastic bandage around the bruised part. By squeezing the tissues underneath, the bandage helps prevent blood vessels from leaking. The bruise won’t be quite as severe.

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Apply Heat to the Bruise

After cooling the bruise for 24 hours, start applying heat to bring more circulation to the area and help clear away the pooled blood. Use an electric heating pad for 20 minutes several times a day. Be sure to follow the instructions on the heating pad: To avoid burns, it should go on top of, not under, the bruised limb.

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Spread Parsley Over the Bruise

Take a handful of fresh parsley leaves, crush them, and spread them over the bruise. Wrap the area with an elastic bandage. Some experts claim that parsley decreases inflammation, reduces pain, and can make the bruise fade more quickly.

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How to Prevent Bruising

If you feel like you bruise too easily, you may be deficient in vitamin C. It strengthens capillary walls so they’re less likely to leak blood and make a bruise. Get additional vitamin C by eating more peppers, citrus fruit, and take a multivitamin. You can increase your intake of flavonoids by eating more carrots, apricots and citrus fruits. These help vitamin C work better in the body. Grape-seed extract is also a rich supplier of flavonoids. Take 20 to 50 milligrams daily.