If you’ve bruised your face, aside from dealing with physical pain, you want the bruise gone so you can look like yourself again. You don’t want to be surprised or upset every time you look in the mirror. And it gets annoying being asked the same question over and over again: “What happened to your face?”

What is a bruise?

A bruise — also referred to as a contusion or ecchymosis — is blood from tiny broken blood vessels that collects between the skin and the muscle.

In most cases, your bruise will be gone — or almost invisible — in about two weeks.

In response to being struck, your skin will typically look pink or red. Within one or two days of your injury, the blood that has collected at the injury site turns a bluish or dark purple color. After 5 to 10 days, the bruise turns a green or yellow color. This is a sign that healing is taking place.

After 10 or 14 days, the bruise’s color will be more of a yellow-brown or light brown. This is the final stage of your body absorbing the collected blood. The color will gradually fade away, and your skin will be back to its normal color.

Treating your bruised face is broken down into two periods: immediately after the injury and 36 hours after the injury. The faster and more complete the treatment, the sooner the bruise will fade away.

Treating a bruised face immediately

If you’ve been struck in the face and you feel the hit was hard enough to cause a bruise, put an ice pack on the area as soon as possible. This will help to treat inflammation and limit swelling. Hold the ice or cold compress on the injury site for a minimum of 10 minutes and a maximum of 30 minutes. Then keep the ice off for 15 minutes.

You should repeat this ice-on/ice-off cycle for about three hours.

At the same time, you can keep additional pressure off the area by keeping your head elevated. Follow this regimen a few times a day for the first 36 hours following the trauma.

Treatment after 36 hours

About 36 hours after your injury and home treatment, change out the cold treatment with warmth. To increase blood flow to the injury site, hold a warm compress to your face a few times a day.

Pain relief

If you’ve been hit in the face, you’re likely in some pain. If you need a pain-relieving medication, avoid taking too much NSAID therapy like aspirin (Bayer, Ecotrin) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin). These over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers also thin the blood, and that could make the bruise worse. Tylenol (acetaminophen) is an okay OTC option instead of taking an NSAID.

If you’ve received a bad bruise, heavy exercise can also increase blood flow to the injury site and that could make the bruise worse.

Treatment after bruising

If you were unable to treat the injured area before a bruise formed, making it go away quickly is a bit more difficult. Two methods you can try are sunlight and massage.

  • Sunlight. Exposing the bruise to up to 15 minutes of UV radiation may help break down bilirubin, a substance that causes a bruise to turn brown-yellow.
  • Massage. To stimulate blood circulation and augment the lymphatic circulation process, gently massage around the outer edge of the bruise using small circular motions.

Although there’s not much support from in-depth medical studies, many people believe that certain alternative home remedies can dramatically speed up the healing process of a bruised face. Always check with your doctor before committing to any course of treatment.

Arnica

Arnica is an herb that proponents of natural healing believe can reduce inflammation, swelling, and the discoloration of bruises quickly. Although diluted arnica can be taken orally, they suggest using only a topical arnica gel on your bruise two times per day.

Vitamin K cream

Using topical vitamin K cream two times per day on your bruise may help the bruise to heal faster.

Vitamin C

Advocates of natural medicine support the idea of eating foods that are high in vitamin C — or taking a vitamin C supplement — to help heal a bruise faster. Vitamin C assists the body in reducing inflammation. They also suggest applying a gel or creams that contain vitamin C directly to the bruise.

Bromelain

A mixture of enzymes found in pineapple and papaya, bromelain is suggested by natural healing advocates to reduce inflammation and inhibit blood clots from forming. They support the idea that taking a bromelain supplement of 200 to 400 milligrams will make a bruise disappear faster. They also suggest making a pulp of pineapple and/or papaya and applying it directly to your bruise.

Cayenne pepper

The capsaicin found in hot peppers is believed by many to be effective in reducing the pain of bruises. Some suggest making a mixture of one part cayenne pepper and five parts melted petroleum jelly (Vaseline) and applying to your bruise.

Comfrey

Advocates of natural healing suggest that a cream containing comfrey or a compress using boiled dry comfrey leaves can help a bruise heal quickly.

Vinegar

Some people believe that a mixture of vinegar and warm water rubbed on the bruise may increase blood flow to the skin's surface to help your bruise heal faster.

Bilberry

Some supporters of home remedies suggest ingesting bilberry extract to stabilize collagen and strengthen capillaries which, in turn, they believe will help your bruise heal faster.

A bruise on the face can be upsetting for cosmetic reasons. If you treat it properly, you might be able to reduce the amount of time you have to see it when you look in the mirror.

Be aware that a bruise could also be a symptom of a more serious injury. A blow to the head that causes a bruise may also have caused a concussion or even a fracture, and should be monitored closely. Also, even if the trauma that caused the bruise seemed insignificant, if the pain and tenderness associated with the bruise doesn’t go away, you might have an injury that should be treated by a doctor.

It’s always recommended that you see your doctor if you’ve received a blow to the head that was hard enough to cause bruising.