5 Ways to Reduce Bruising and Swelling

May 7th 2016

Bruising and swelling are a natural response to injuries, but you can help them heal by both resting and elevating the affected area, as well as applying ice and compression to it. Taking the right medications and herbal supplements can also help you heal faster.

Ice, Then Heat

Icing the bruised or swollen areas is one of the easiest and most effective ways to reduce swelling and stop the spread of the bruise. Apply ice as soon as possible after the injury, and continue to ice the area for about 48 hours. Do not apply the ice for too long without a break to prevent damage to your skin.

After the 48 hours has passed, switch to heat. Warm compresses encourage circulation, which brings healing nutrients to the area. It can also help ease any residual pain. Consult your doctor before using warm compresses if the area is still swollen.


Gentle compression for the first 24 to 48 hours can help restrict blood flow, which reduces the spread of bruising and swelling. Only apply pressure from your hand; do not apply tight bandages or other severely restrictive materials to the injured area, as restricting circulation too much can cause negative effects.


If the injured area is below your heart, try resting in a position that elevates it. This also slows down blood flow to the area. Use a pillow or other comfortable surface to prop up your injured limb and listen to your body. If your limb starts falling asleep or otherwise feeling uncomfortable, give it a break to restore circulation.

The Right Medications

There are several over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs that are safe and effective in reducing inflammation. Ibuprofen and acetaminophen are two common drugs. Ibuprofen is more effective against inflammation, so is a better choice when trying to reduce swelling. One over-the-counter medication to stay away from is aspirin. It acts as a blood thinner, so it can exacerbate bruising. If you take aspirin daily as a preventative measure, talk to your doctor before discontinuing it.

Herbal Remedies

Arnica is a popular and generally safe herb that can effectively treat bruises and swelling. You can apply it topically to the affected area for a more targeted dose, but do not apply it to broken skin. Certain ingredients in fruits and vegetables can also speed your healing. Bromelain, which comes from pineapple stems, has strong anti-inflammatory properties. Quercetin is also effective, and you can get it naturally by eating red onions, leafy green vegetables and citrus fruits.


Bruises and swelling are a natural part of the body's healing process, but they are also unsightly and uncomfortable. While it is impossible to avoid them entirely, there are some easy ways to help you heal faster and more effectively. If you are suffering from a bruise after an injury or surgery, consider trying these easy methods to reduce it.

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