Can essential oils treat bruises?
Essential oils are popular natural remedies that are easy to use at home.
They may also be helpful treatments for bruises. Herbalists and other practitioners present evidence-based arguments for using essential oils on bruises.
Interestingly, some of today’s research supports the use of certain oils for bruises, too.
What happens when you get a bruise?
Bruises are dark patches that form on skin. They can be dark violet, blue, green, yellow, or even red or brown in color.
Bruises, also called contusions, might happen for all sorts of reasons. You could develop a bruise after accidentally bumping into something, being in a collision, or experiencing other types of contact.
The discoloration happens from ruptured blood vessels just underneath the skin. This occurs as a result of extreme pressure or blunt trauma, where the skin is not broken.
Instead of typical bleeding out of a wound, the bleeding just happens under the skin. The discoloration you see is subcutaneous blood clotting.
Best essential oils for bruises and how to use them
The following are the best essential oils for treating pain or discoloration related to bruising.
In general, essential oils are too irritating to be applied directly to the skin. You should avoid contact with undiluted essential oils. Instead, dilute them in a carrier oil then add the mixture to a warm compress for application.
Oils may also be mixed with topical lotion, cream, or carrier oil. Mix 5 drops oil with each ounce of product you use or store.
Multiple oils may also be used together directly or in products. Apply diluted oils directly to skin as needed. Doing so twice per day is recommended.
If allergic irritation occurs on the skin, stop using essential oils immediately. Never use essential oils internally.
Arnica (Arnica montana)
Arnica flower is one of the most popular herbal remedies for bruising.
It’s shown to speed healing, quickly reduce bruise size, and restore normal skin tone. Arnica is also pain-relieving.
In a 2016 study, surgery patients received topical arnica for ecchymosis, a type of bruising. The herb helped heal these bruises faster than a placebo.
Topically, arnica essential oil could help bruises heal faster. Twice per day, apply a few drops of diluted essential oil to unbroken bruised skin. Arnica is also available as a homeopathic remedy.
Frankincense (Boswellia spp.)
Frankincense is also recommended for reducing bruise appearance and size more quickly. Its anti-inflammatory qualities can help relieve pain as well.
Apply a few drops of diluted essential oil to unbroken bruised areas twice per day.
Helichrysum (Helichrysum italicum)
Also called everlasting flower, helichrysum is often used for bruises by aromatherapists.
A 2013 review found helichrysum to have anti-hematomal properties. If quickly applied, the essential oil reduces bruise size and appearance. It also soothes inflammation.
Apply diluted oil to unbroken skin immediately after injury. Reapply as necessary for pain relief.
Lavender (Lavandula officinalis)
Lavender is an easy-to-obtain and widely known essential oil. Like helichrysum, it’s thought that quick application post-injury can reduce bruising appearance.
A 2015 study confirmed this among women who experienced extreme bruising around the stiches on the perineum after delivery. It also eased pain.
Apply 5 drops immediately to unbroken skin where bruising occurs. Direct application of oil may be uncomfortable for some. If so, try in a warm compress instead.
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)
Never use rosemary directly on skin. It can be irritating. Combine with a carrier oil.
St. John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum)
St. John’s wort is used today in massage for helping bruise pain and speeding recovery time.
A 2017 study showed that it could be helpful for bed sores. These sores are much like a type of bruise. However, the study was limited.
Another 2018 study showed St. John’s wort helped with pain and bruising following surgical labor. It was used with another herb, yarrow.
Apply diluted oil directly to bruised area for relief.
Turmeric (Curcuma longa)
In a 2013 study, turmeric was observed alongside frankincense to promote pain relief and better healing.
Turmeric was likely more responsible for the pain relief, due to its anti-inflammatory properties, while frankincense helped improve bruise appearance.
Apply diluted essential oil directly to bruise site.
Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium)
A 2014 review of wormwood references its usefulness for pain and wound healing around the world. In many cultures, the plant is quite effective for relieving the more painful aspects of bruising.
Wormwood essential oil can be very irritating to the skin. Watch for a reaction or irritation. Start with 1 to 2 drops per ounce of carrier oil before you increase to 5 drops.
Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)
In a 2018 study along with St. John’s wort, yarrow helped pain and bruise appearance. It could speed recovery in bruises of all types.
Apply diluted yarrow essential oil directly to bruises with unbroken skin.
When should I see a doctor for bruising?
Most bruises aren’t a concern and can easily be treated at home. They also go away eventually on their own with no treatment.
You should see a doctor immediately (and avoid using essential oils) if:
- you have extreme pain, swelling, or edema
- your bruise has no obvious cause and you take blood-thinning medications
- you have bruises appear for no reason
- your bruise won’t go away or gets larger after three or four weeks
- your bruise is on an eye or your head with signs of concussion
Bruises tend to be nonserious injuries. You can easily find relief for them at home. The most common ways of dealing with bruising include:
- applying cool packs in the first day or two
- elevating the bruised area
- getting rest
- taking over-the-counter pain medications
- soaking the bruised area
Essential oils can aid the healing process and recovery.
Essential oils are great options when used correctly. Some work well for pain, while others may help reduce bruise appearance. Some essential oils are even effective at both.
If you have persistent bruising with no apparent cause, talk to your doctor.