Bruises – and things to look out for..
There will not be many of us who have not knocked some part of our body and seen a bruise appear the next hour or so.
When we bang into something harder than the skin’s surface we damage the very small blood vessels. This causes a discolouration of the skin in varying shades of blue and green and sometimes purple along with a tenderness to the touch. Usually both the pain and the bruise disappear after a few days as the blood vessels repair beneath the skin. As they heal the colour will change to red.. green and yellow as the blood is absorbed back into the body.
For these occasional bangs and wallops that result in bruises there is little reason for concern and the discomfort can be eased with the application of something that is always in my medicine cabinet.
Arnica also known as Leopard’s Bane and Sneezwort is a herb that has been used for centuries as a treatment for bruises, inflammation such as sprains and acne. To be honest, there is as usual, very little scientific research into arnica and its properties. I have used it on bruises for many years and I do believe that it speeds up the healing process and reduces some of the discomfort.
It is used in the form of a tincture which is the concentrated herb diluted with fluid which is alcohol (acidic herbs) or a resin such as balsam which is a water and alcohol mix.. You would then leave the concoction for about three weeks before using..Thankfully, you can buy the tincture ready prepared in most health food shops.
N.B There are few interactions reported but I do suggest that if you are pregnant that you do not use any herbal remedies, even topical ones without a qualified herbalist.. Also if you notice a reaction or rash after use, wash off immediately.
One very simply if chilly method to decrease inflammation and pain is to apply ice immediately. If possible keep the bruised area elevated to decrease blood flow to the damaged site and inflammation.
Lavender oil has also been used on the continent. Make a soft compress with a pad for the lavender. Gently bandage in place and leave on for 24 hours.
The other medicine cupboard staple is Witch Hazel.. again available in pharmacies and health food shops. Rub into the bruised area three or four times a day.
Other reasons for bruising that you need to get checked out.
If you find that you bruise easily and particularly in areas that you feel you have not damaged then you should visit a doctor.
It could be as simple as a Vitamin C deficiency but it could be an indication of a more serious condition. Including leukemia, other blood disorders and diabetes.
There are also certain medications that have a blood thinning property such as aspirin or wafarin. (do not stop taking any prescribed medication without your doctor’s knowledge)
It can also be the result of taking cortisone medication or antidepressants.
There are some natural blood thinners although not usually associated with bruising, it is something to consider if you are taking supplements containing high concentrations of Cinnamon, Ginger, Licorice, Paprika or Turmeric.
Excessive bruising can also be associated with liver disease where the proteins produced to help clot the blood are no longer being produced.
As our skin becomes thinner as we age, bruising becomes more common.. The bruises tend to be purple in colour and take far longer to dissipate if at all.
If you are suffering from unusual bruising that is not associated with a knock, or persists for longer than a few days, get it checked out by a doctor.
Keeping the Skin Hydrated and supple.
As we get older we need to ensure we are well hydrated internally, but also externally, and use a daily moisturising cream on face and body. Dry skin is much more vulnerable to bruising and other skin damage and whilst we tend to add cream to our faces the rest of the body is neglected. This applies to both men and women, although I know most men don’t think this applies to them!
You can buy oil based lotions and creams containing olive oil, coconut oil, lanolin etc and I have been using one for the last year which contains beeswax and manuka honey. I use morning and night and it smells great too.
A drop or two of baby oil in the bath helps and there are a number of natural shower and bath gels on the market which are helpful for dry skin.
Diet to improve the flexibility of blood vessels, softness of skin and help prevent bruising.
It is important to have a balanced diet with nutrients from all the food groups, but in particular Vitamin C which plays a vital role in many organs of the body including our skin which is the largest waste organ of the body.
A key nutrient is Vitamin C: Ascorbic Acid; An antioxidant that protects LDL cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein) from oxidative damage, leading to hardening of the arteries. Vitamin C may also protect against heart disease reducing, the hardening of arteries and the tendency of platelets to clump together blocking them. Vitamin C is necessary to form collagen, which acts like glue strengthening parts of the body such as muscles and blood vessels. It aids with healing and is a natural anti-histamine.
It is essential for the action of the Immune system and plays a part in the actions of the white blood cells and anti-bodies. It protects other antioxidants A and E from free radical damage and is involved in the production of some adrenal hormones.
It is water soluble and found in all fruit and vegetables with best sources being:
- Brussel sprouts,
- Kiwi fruit,
©Sally Cronin Just Food for Health 1998 – 2021
I am a qualified nutritional therapist with twenty-three years experience working with clients in Ireland and the UK as well as being a health consultant on radio in Spain. Although I write a lot of fiction, I actually wrote my first two books on health, the first one, Size Matters, a weight loss programme 20 years ago, based on my own weight loss of 154lbs. My first clinic was in Ireland, the Cronin Diet Advisory Centre and my second book, Just Food for Health was written as my client’s workbook. Since then I have written a men’s health manual, and anti-aging programme, articles for magazines, radio programmes and posts here on Smorgasbord.
If you would like to browse my health books and fiction you can find them here::Sally’s books and reviews
Thanks for visiting and I am always delighted to receive your feedback.. stay safe Sally.