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Teen Version

What is a bruise?

Bleeding into the skin from damaged blood vessels causes a black-and-blue mark, which we call a bruise. Because the skin is not broken, there is no risk of infection. Bruises usually occur after an injury caused by blunt objects. Unexplained bruises can indicate a bleeding tendency (exception: "unexplained" bruises on the shins are usually not a sign of a bleeding tendency because people commonly bump this area and then forget that they bumped it).

How can I take care of myself?

  • Bruises

    Apply ice to the bruised area for 20 to 30 minutes. No other treatment should be necessary. Take acetaminophen or ibuprofen for pain. Don't use aspirin because it may prolong the bleeding. After 48 hours apply a warm washcloth for 10 minutes three times a day to help your skin reabsorb the blood. Bruises clear in about 2 weeks.

  • Blood blisters

    Do not open blood blisters because it will increase the possibility of infection. The blisters will dry up and peel off in 1 to 2 weeks.

When should I call my health care provider?


  • You develop new bruises AND you don't know what caused them.
  • You have bruises around the eyes after a head injury.
Written by B.D. Schmitt, M.D., author of "Your Child's Health," Bantam Books.
Published by McKesson Provider Technologies.
Last modified: 2006-07-31
Last reviewed: 2006-02-23
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright 2006 McKesson Corporation and/or one of its subsidiaries. All Rights Reserved.
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