Bruises in Children: Care Instructions

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Your Care Instructions

Picture of a bruised ankle

Bruises occur when small blood vessels under the skin tear or rupture, most often from a twist, bump, or fall. Blood leaks into tissues under the skin and causes a black-and-blue spot that often turns colours, including purplish black, reddish blue, or yellowish green, as the bruise heals.

Bruises hurt, but most are not serious and will go away on their own within 2 to 4 weeks. Sometimes, gravity causes them to spread down the body. A leg bruise usually will take longer to heal than a bruise on the face or arms.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

How can you care for your child at home?

  • Give pain medicines exactly as directed.
    • If the doctor gave your child a prescription medicine for pain, give it as prescribed.
    • If your child is not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask the doctor if your child can take an over-the-counter medicine.
    • Do not give your child two or more pain medicines at the same time unless the doctor told you to. Many pain medicines have acetaminophen, which is Tylenol. Too much acetaminophen (Tylenol) can be harmful.
  • Put ice or a cold pack on the area for 10 to 20 minutes at a time. Put a thin cloth between the ice and your child's skin.
  • If you can, prop up the bruised area on pillows as much as possible for the next few days. Try to keep the bruise above the level of your child's heart.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your child has signs of infection, such as:
    • Increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness.
    • Red streaks leading from the bruise.
    • Pus draining from the bruise.
    • A fever.
  • Your child has a bruise on the leg and signs of a blood clot, such as:
    • Increasing redness and swelling along with warmth, tenderness, and pain in the bruised area.
    • Pain in the calf, back of the knee, thigh, or groin.
    • Redness and swelling in the leg or groin.
  • Your child's pain gets worse.

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:

  • Your child does not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

Go to http://www.healthwise.net/ed

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Current as of: May 27, 2016