How to heal your child’s bruises

Kids and bruises go hand in hand. Do you have a plan?

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Photo: AVAVA/iStockphoto

Robyn Smith’s one-year-old twins were strapped into their double stroller without the brakes on, and when their caregiver turned her back, it rolled down the driveway, hitting the curb and flipping over. “My daughter’s cheek hit the pavement and she was crying. Her cheek was white and it looked like it was going to bruise badly. Immediately, I added ice, followed by some bruise cream that I applied religiously for the next few weeks,” Smith explains. “The bruise was minimal, and resolved quickly, with absolutely no residual mark or scar today.”

Every child will have their share of bumps and bruises from normal play and physical activity. Alyssa Rolnick, a registered dietitian in Toronto and creator of Zax’s Kid’s Bruise Cream, says “a bruise, also called a contusion, forms on the skin when the blood vessels have been injured, causing discolouration to that area.” When children have this type of injury — which is a common occurence — they also have pain and swelling around that spot.

Life cycle of a bruise
Typically, a bruise starts off as a combination of black, blue and purple — and heals in seven days. As healing progresses, swelling will decrease and the colour will fade to a mixture of brown, yellow or green. “Bruises come and go, but if you can help alleviate some of your child’s pain naturally, then that’s brilliant,“ says Rolnick.

But be cautious: If a bruise doesn’t heal within seven to 10 days, or if it gets bigger, firm or more painful, seek medical attention.

Four easy steps to heal a bruise
The RICE method can help alleviate the pain and minimize the mark.

Rest: Allow the injured area time to heal and repair on its own by having the child take it easy.
Ice: Apply an ice pack (if there are no open wounds). This will constrict the blood vessels.
Compression: Massage the bruise gently and apply pressure as necessary to help increase blood flow and alleviate pain.
Elevation: Elevate the injured area to reduce swelling and increase blood flow.

By following this process, and using a bruise cream that contains healing properties such as arnica (to decrease pain) and witch hazel (to minimize discolouration and restore blood vessels), your child will be on the move again in no time.

A version of this article appeared in our February 2013 issue with the headline “Battling bruises,” p. 24.

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