Bruises are caused by injuries to the soft tissue. Also known as a contusion, the damage occurs underneath the unbroken skin. It is also visible through the skin tissue. The bruise first assumes a red or purple color, which forms a tender bump on the surface, but after a few days, it turns black and blue. In a week’s time, it appears yellow then it takes on a light brown color before fading. Most bruises don’t require treatment as they heal after fourteen days.
How Bruises Form
A knock, bump, or blow on the body causes an impact on the blood vessels (capillaries) under the skin, which makes them break. The red blood cells flow out of the capillaries and collect under the skin, causing the change in skin color. Over time, these changes in skin color show that healing is in progress and the body is replacing the lost blood cells.
As one ages, the skin becomes thinner and is prone to bruising more easily. It is because blood vessels thin and become fragile, making the skin vulnerable to injury even when it has not been impacted with significant force. However, people who bruise easily without dramatic trauma demonstrate signs of a medical problem that requires medical attention.
Treating the Bruises
While bruises heal within fourteen days without the need for medical treatment, administering a few remedies helps ease the pain and encourage fast fading. The next discussion highlights essential oils that help heal bruises, as well as a few homemade solutions for people who prefer natural methods.
Essential Oils to Help Heal Bruises
1) Witch Hazel
It has astringent properties, making it great for treating bruises, acne, and hemorrhoids. Witch hazel originates from the leaves and bark of Hamamelis virginiana, a shrub native to North America regions. In the past, Native Americans recognized the plant for medicinal properties and prepared a decoction of the boiled parts to treat tumors and skin irritation.
The witch hazel makes a perfect remedy for healing bruises as it works by contracting the body tissues and reducing bleeding. This way, bruises fade fast, and the underlying skin also heals. Its application is ideal for swollen bruises, but it can be used to treat minor injuries.
How to use it
• Apply a cold pack of ice on the bruised area to reduce inflammation
• Add a few drops of chamomile or lavender oil to hazel lotion
• Remove the ice pack and spread the cream on the affected area
• Apply the treatment two to three times a day until the bruise fades
2) Arnica Ointment
Preparations of Arnica roots and yellow flowers have been used for centuries to treat muscle pain, sprains, bruises, and other disorders. In fact, a German poet- Johann Wolfgang-prepared arnica tea to treat chest pains. The tea is considered extremely poisonous and should not be taken by the mouth.
Arnica has anti-inflammatory chemicals known as sesquiterpene lactones that reduce swelling. It also contains flavonoids that help strengthen blood vessels by reducing leakage of the blood underneath the skin, which occurs after bruising. A study conducted in 2010 confirmed the traditional role of arnica in treating bruises and is considered more efficient than the vitamin K formulation. In another research, the homeopathic arnica cream was found to help athletes who had sports injuries recover fast.
The homeopathic form of arnica is also used to reduce postoperative bruising and swelling in patients after who have had cosmetic surgery. Arnica is prepared in various forms; gels, creams, and ointments, which when applied on the skin, help heal bruises. You may add other essential oils like tea tree, cypress, and lavender, among others to arnica ointment to enhance activity on the affected area.
3) Cypress Oil
Its scientific name is Cupressus sempervirens, an evergreen tree with small, woody cones. Its unique botanical features- tolerance to air current, drought, and atmospheric gases, as well as its well-developed root system help the cypress tree to flourish in alkaline and acidic soils. The stem, twigs, and needles of the cypress tree are steam-distilled to produce the oil. Its main constituents include careen, limonene and alpha-pinene that have antibacterial, antiseptic, antirheumatic, antispasmodic, and stimulating properties.
Cypress oil not only heals bruises but also makes an effective remedy for arthritic joints and varicose veins. It ranks among the best essential oils for treating traumatic soft tissue injuries like sprains and severe edema caused by aggressive cosmetic surgeries such as liposuction. The oil carries astringent and hemostatic properties that prevent excessive flow of blood and promote clotting of blood by tightening the tissues.
Cypress oil also has antiseptic properties carried by the camphene component that make it ideal for healing internal and external wounds and bruises. A 2014 study showed that cypress oil could also be used as a cosmetic ingredient in the making of soap due to its anti-bacterial properties. The oil is also used to treat stretch marks, cellulite, sores, pustule, pimples, and skin eruptions.
How to Use it
• Apply a pack of ice on the bruised area
• Remove after a few minutes and apply the cypress oil on the area
• Use it several times a day until the bruise fades
4) Rosemary Oil
Considered a sacred plant among the Romans, Greeks, Hebrews, and Egyptians, the rosemary plant offers lots of uses apart from the usual aromatic properties on foods. Rosemary has a characteristic woody, evergreen scent and is native to the Mediterranean who used it as folk medicine to improve memory, relieve muscle aches and pains, as well as soothe digestive problems.
Its ability to relieve pain has resulted in its extensive use in treating muscle pains, headaches, rheumatism, and arthritis. People with bruises can massage the affected area with rosemary essential oil to relieve pain fast. It is also known to stimulate the circulation of blood, thus aiding in the fast healing of wounds. Rosemary oil has anti-inflammatory qualities, making it ideal for relieving joint aches and sprains.
For application, mix three drops of rosemary essential oil with a drop of peppermint, lavender, and eucalyptus oil in twenty drops of carrier oil and apply the affected area. Another alternative involves mixing four drops of rosemary oil with two drops of marjoram or lime essential oil in ten drops of carrier oil.
5) Helichrysum Oil
Helichrysum is a natural medicinal plant used to make the essential oil, which boasts a range of uses. To begin with, it aids in anti-inflammation due to various mechanisms; free radical scavenging activity, the inflammatory enzyme and its corticoid-like effects. Helichrysum is also native to the Mediterranean region where it was used for different medicinal properties for decades. There are more than 600 species of the Helichrysum italicum and is also known by other names like Curry plant, Everlasting, and Immortelle.
Today, modern science validates the use of Helichrysum oil, which carries antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidizing, and antifungal properties. It explains its use in healing wounds and bruises. Research shows that the oil reduces muscle pain by minimizing inflammation and swelling while enhancing the circulation of blood. As such, it aids in the healing of joints, muscle tissue, and nerves, making it the perfect remedy for bruises and exercise-related injuries, as well as pain-related symptoms of fibromyalgia and arthritis.
• Add five drops of helichrysum oil to ten drops of carrier oil
• Massage the blended oil to the bruised part twice a day
6) Frankincense Oil
The oil has been used for decades for its therapeutic, hygienic, medicinal, and spiritual purposes. It originated from the gum resins of Boswellia tree and extracted through steam distillation. Apart from the symbolic religious significance throughout history, frankincense helps rid of inflammation, skin diseases, respiratory problems, and gynecological conditions. Today, frankincense oil occurs in a variety of ways that have different chemical compositions- Boswellia Serrata, Boswellia Frereana and Boswellia Carterii. The Boswellia Carterii variety is used to produce the oil used for clinical studies.
Frankincense oil aids in the healing of wounds and also promotes pain relief. Additionally, since it promotes relaxation, the oil makes an excellent remedy for treating bruises, especially those that affect an extensive area of the body.
• Add two drops of the essential oil to half a teaspoon of carrier oil
• Rub the mixture on the bruised part three times a day
7) Lemon Grass Oil
Apart from its characteristic aromatic properties common in Thailand, lemongrass essential oil helps relieve muscle pain, ward off insects, aid in digestion, reduce body aches, and kill bacteria. Lemongrass belongs to the grass specie of Poaceae and has a fresh lemon scent with earthy undertones that are believed to aid in relaxation.
The essential oil is a rich source of vitamins A, C, B1, B6, B2, B5 and B3, as well as folate. It also provides essential minerals like phosphorus, copper, magnesium, calcium, manganese, iron, and zinc. Its astringent properties make it ideal for healing bruises and wounds by enhancing the cessation of blood. For the application, mix the lemongrass oil with sweet almond oil and massage the bruised area.
Lemongrass essential oil is available in the market and is often prepared through steam distillation. However, for people who have lemongrass growing in their backyards, they can quickly make the oil by infusing it with a carrier oil.
Note that the oil occurs in different forms- an inhaler, cream, vaporizer, or capsule that can be ingested. As such, it is essential to use it depending on your health condition. For example, if you are bruised, massage a diluted solution to the affected area. But if you want to reduce stress, diffuse the oil using a vaporizer.
• Applying Ice
Compressing ice on the affected area helps reduce the flow of blood to the section and minimize discoloration. There are lots of flexible ice packs that are specially designed for injuries, and most people keep them in the freezer. If you don’t have an ice pack, you can improvise by soaking a cloth in ice-cold water and spreading it on the bruise for ten minutes.
You may also spread a bag of frozen veggies wrapped in a towel on the bruise. Be sure to take the ice pack off after ten minutes and wait for another twenty minutes before reapplying the ice pack, so that you do not over-freeze the skin. Alternatively, you may freeze two spoons of stainless steel for fifteen minutes and place them in the bruise to minimize the blood clot.
However, if you have bruised your leg or arm, you need to wrap it using an elastic bandage immediately. The dressing helps squeeze the skin tissues underneath the skin to prevent the blood vessels from leaking and causing discoloration.
• Black Tea Bags
A chilled black tea bag also makes an excellent natural remedy for treating bruises. It tightens the tissues, thus reducing discoloration and pooling. You just need to freeze a used tea bag and place it on the bruised area. You may also spread an ice pack on the tea bag to enhance its astringent properties.
• Using a Hot Water Bottle
Here, you take a bottle of hot water and place it on the injured area. Warm water helps reduce the clotting of blood while minimizing blood flow to the bruised tissue. If the injured part has developed swelling, first apply an ice pack before hot compressing. Moist heat usually works better on a damaged area as it spreads faster and penetrates deeper compared to applying dry heat. You may also use a towel soaked in warm water or a hot bath.
• Applying Honey or Sugar
Sugar and honey have anti-bacterial properties that promote wound healing and faster fading of a bruise. You just need to apply hot syrup on the injury and tie it using a bandage. If the use of hot syrup feels a little scary, you can apply a layer of thick sugar syrup on the bruise and place an ice pack afterward. Allow the sugar to tighten on the surface so that the bruise does not spread.
With this guide, you don’t have to experience the pain and discomfort that comes with bruises. You can get rid of them in a matter of a week instead of the long fourteen days. However, when using essential oils as remedies for bruises, you should pay attention to signs of skin irritation and adverse reactions as the skin tends to more sensitive than usual.