Children & Adolescents Clinic

 Home Parent's Guide

Clinical Reference Systems: Pediatric Advisor 10.0
Spanish version



Bleeding into the skin from damaged blood vessels causes a black-and-blue mark, which we call a bruise. Because the skin is not broken, there is no risk of infection. Bruises usually occur after an injury caused by blunt objects. Unexplained bruises can indicate that a child has a bleeding tendency (exception: "unexplained" bruises on the shins are usually not a sign of a bleeding tendency because people commonly bump this area and then forget that they bumped it).

Home Care

  1. Bruises

    Apply ice to the bruised area for 20 to 30 minutes. No other treatment should be necessary. Give acetaminophen or ibuprofen for pain. Don't use aspirin because it may prolong the bleeding. After 48 hours apply a warm washcloth for 10 minutes three times a day to help the skin reabsorb the blood. Bruises clear in about 2 weeks.

  2. Blood blisters

    Do not open blood blisters because it will increase the possibility of infection. The blisters will dry up and peel off in 1 to 2 weeks.

For information on treatment of bruised bone or muscle, see

Bone, Muscle, and Joint Trauma.


  • Your child develops new bruises AND you don't know what caused them.

Written by B.D. Schmitt, M.D., author of "Your Child's Health," Bantam Books.
Copyright 1999 Clinical Reference Systems