Managing Bruises in Children - Signs and Symptoms - Health Education - DesiMD Healthcare - India
Health Education

Managing Bruises in Children

Dr.Surya Rao Poodipeddi profile Authored by Dr.Surya Rao Poodipeddi on 9 Jul 2014 - 18:07.


A bruise is a common skin injury that results in skin discoloration. When tiny blood vessels under the skin break, the blood from the damaged blood vessels collects near the surface of the skin and changes the skin color to blue or black mark. In medical parlance a bruise is also known as contusion. A crawling child or just beginning to walk normally gets hurt often by banging into something or by falling down leading to bruises on the skin.

When your child is hit with an object, small blood vessels in the soft tissue near the skin surface rupture, especially since the tiny capillaries in the infant’s skin are very delicate. As the body’s defensive and protective mechanism absorbs the blood so released, it leaves a mark which is first typically greenish yellow. They are very prominent and obvious on babies and younger children because their skin is very thin.

First Aid: Bruises are not problematic. They are harmless and heal on their own within a week or two. If the bruise is accompanied by a swelling, you can apply ice packs for 10 to 15 minutes several times a day for about 2 to 3 days to reduce the swelling. If you don’t find an ice pack you can use any refrigerated item like pees, ice cubes or even ice cold water in a plastic bag and apply it on the swelling.

If the discomfort in the child persists, the child should be examined by the doctor and appropriate pain relievers may be given. If the bruise results from a fall off the couch or bed or due to any traumatic accident like the tumble of a child in a car, make sure you instantly have the doctor examined for any serious injuries.

Bruises Signs and Symptoms:

  • A fresh bruise initially may be reddish and turn into blue or purple in a couple of hours. It will then turn blue or dark purple within a few hours, then yellow or green after a few days as it heals.
  • A bruise is normally tender and sometimes painful for the first few days, and may gradually fade into a yellow or green color as it heals over a few days.
  • A bruise most often does not have a cut or a scrape and therefore the possibility of an infection is not possible unless the skin opens up.

When to see a doctor?

You should seek medical care in the following situations:

  • The child has banged his head and has a bruise behind the ear which could be a sign of a fracture in the skull bones.
  • Has a bruise which has not faded or relieved within 2 weeks.
  • Has pain for more than 24 hours.
  • Has a bruise on a large joint like knee, ankle, elbow or wrist or is reluctant to use the affected joint or has difficulty in moving an arm or leg.
  • Has a cut or abrasion showing signs of infection like pus, unexplained fever or an increase in the size of the swelling with pain.

If your baby has a bruise resulting from an injury to the lower back you must get his urine examined for the presence of blood. This might indicate that the kidneys or other organs are involved. Lastly unexplained black and blue spots may indicate that your child has a tendency to bleed easily. If the child develops bruises unassociated with injuries make an immediate appointment with your pediatrician

You must be very careful if your child is found to have a black eye. A black eye could be just a type of bruise. However, some eye-injuries are dangerous and serious. Therefore watch carefully for the following and call the doctor immediately if you notice:

  • Child is unable to move the eye normally in all directions
  • Bleeding in the conjunctiva i.e. the white of the eye.

If you are lucky not to find these two important signs you can treat the black eye like any other bruise. If there is pain and the child keeps crying apply ice-packs. The best bet is to feed the baby which might divert her attention from pain and also your attempts in applying ice-packs.

Call a doctor if it takes more time than necessary for the bruise to disappear, certainly not longer than two weeks.

*Disclaimer: This is not medical advice. The content is for educational purposes only. Please contact your doctor for any health care issues.