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Brief Version

What are bruises?

The black-and-blue marks we call bruises are caused by damaged blood vessels. Most of the time, bruises happen when your child bumps into something or is hit by something. If your child has bruises that cannot be explained, it's a good idea to talk with your doctor.

What can I do to take care of my child?

If your child has a bruise:

  • Put a cold pack or ice in a bag on the bruised area for 20 minutes.
  • Give acetaminophen or ibuprofen for pain. Don't use aspirin. That may make it bleed longer.
  • After 2 days, put a warm washcloth on the area for 10 minutes three times a day. This helps the skin reabsorb the blood. Bruises go away in about 2 weeks.

If your child has a blood blister:

  • Do not open the blood blister. If you open it, there is a higher chance of infection. The blisters will dry up and peel off in 1 to 2 weeks.

Call your child's doctor right away if:

  • Your child develops new bruises AND you don't know what caused them.
  • Your child has bruises around the eyes after a head injury.
  • A bruise does not heal.
Written by B.D. Schmitt, MD, author of "Your Child's Health," Bantam Books.
Published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2009-08-13
Last reviewed: 2009-06-15
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.
2010 RelayHealth and/or its affiliates. All Rights Reserved.
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