A bruise, also called a contusion, is a type of relatively minor hematoma of tissue in which capillaries and sometimes venules are damaged by trauma, allowing blood to seep into the surrounding space.

People typically get bruises when they bump into something or when something bumps into them.

  • Bruises can occur in some people who exercise rigorously, such as athletes and weight lifters. These bruises result from microscopic tears in blood vessels under the skin.
  • Unexplained bruises that occur easily or for no apparent reason may indicate a bleeding disorder, especially if the bruising is accompanied by frequent nosebleeds or bleeding gums.
  • Often, what are thought to be unexplained bruises on the shin or the thigh, for example, actually result from bumps into a bedpost or other object and failing to recall the injury.
  • Bruises in elderly people frequently occur because their skin has become thinner with age. The tissues that support the underlying blood vessels have become more fragile.

Several essential oils can be used to reduce bruising. Fennel, Hyssop or Lavender are effective if applied to the area as soon as possible after the bruising has occurred, preferably in an ice-cold compress. Lavender can be used later, too, to reduce pain. However, Arnica in a homoeopathic preparation is probably the most effective anti-bruising agent there is, and an Arnica ointment or tincture should be in every natural first-aid kit. In the latter stages of a bruise, when the colour turns green or yellowish, local massage with a stimulating oil, such as Rosemary, will help to disperse the bruising by increasing local circulation, which will help to drain away the blood that was released into the surrounding tissues by the original blow. In the case of severe bruising, such as that resulting from an accident, oils which stimulate the spleen, such as Black Pepper, Camomile and Lavender, are helpful.

People who have a tendency to bruise easily may have a kidney disorder, and should seek help from a well-qualified person, such as an acupuncturist, homoeopath, doctor or medical herbalist, for diagnosis and treatment.

Nicholas Culpeper writes in his 'Complete Herbal' “Bishop’s Weed being mixed with honey and applied to black and blue marks, coming of blows and bruises, it takes them away.” See also Witch Hazel.

Aromatherapy Compress for Bruises

600ml ice-cold water
3 drops sweet marjoram essential oil
3 drops Roman chamomile essential oil

Put the water into a bowl, then add the essential oils and swish around to disperse the oil. Soak a piece of clean, folded cotton fabric in the aromatic water, wring out and place over the bruised area. Leave in place until the fabric warms to body temperature. Reapply several times more, until pain is reduced.

Aromatherapy Ointment for Bruises

25g unperfumed skin cream (available from pharmacies)
5ml calendula tincture
2 drops helichrysum essential oil
2 drops Roman chamomile essential oil
3 drops lavender essential oil

Put the unperfumed skin cream into a little glass pot, then add the tincture and essential oils and stir until thoroughly mixed. Apply two or three times daily

Aromatherapy Recipe for Bruising Around the Eyes

For bruising around the eye, never apply essential oils; should any seep into the eyes, it may cause further pain and irritation. Instead, use an eye pad soaked in ice cold witch hazel for about 15 minutes, and then apply this healing gel.

20ml aloe vera gel
10 drops of calendula tincture

Put the aloe vera gel into a sterilized glass pot, add the calendula tincture and stir until thoroughly mixed. Apply three times a day Pat a little of the gel around the eye area, but away from the eye itself.

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