Even if you invest in puffer jackets and padded pants, it is impossible to avoid life’s sharp edges. The best you can do is to put on a brave face and hope the bruise looks impressive enough to win you a seat on the bus.

A bruise is blood that has accumulated under unbroken skin due to damage to underlying small blood vessels. Medically, a bruise is called a contusion. The area becomes deprived of oxygen for a short while, causing the bruise to change colour due to oxidation, from initially red, purple and blue to green, yellow and brown. All the colours of the rainbow displayed on your very own leg.


  • After a knock or fall, the affected area soon becomes discoloured due to the bleeding beneath the surface.
  • The area will feel tender to touch and may be swollen.
  • If a muscle is involved, movement will be restricted.

What causes it?

  • If something bumps you hard enough, it is perfectly normal to bruise, but some people bruise more easily than others.
  • Blood-thinning drugs such as warfarin, aspirin and even large doses of vitamin E (over 1000 iu daily) may increase your tendency to bruise.
  • Certain medications including steroid drugs will expedite bruising.
  • The older you are, the more fragile your skin, the easier it bruises.
  • Vitamin K helps clotting. A deficiency may increase your tendency to bruise.
  • A deficiency of vitamin B12 (pernicious anaemia) may result in bruising easily. Additionally, those with inflammatory bowel conditions or Coeliac disease often have difficulty absorbing vitamin B12 and as a result may bruise easily.
  • Easy bruising is one of the early symptoms of the classic vitamin C deficiency disease, scurvy. While scurvy is reserved for 18th century sailors, many 21st century landlubbers eat no fruit and fewer vegetables, leaving them at risk of vitamin C deficiency.
  • Excess alcohol intake increases bruising.
  • Certain autoimmune, blood clotting or liver conditions can cause easy bruising.

What to do


  • Eat plenty of vitamin C and bioflavonoid-rich foods. Citrus fruits (eat the white pith as well), buckwheat, rye, berries, rosehip tea and rhubarb, chillies and capsicums.
  • Eat pineapples and drink pineapple juice. Pineapples contain bromelain, which helps to reduce bruising.
  • Avoid alcohol, other than a glass or two of quality red.
  • Vitamin K-rich foods include all green leafy vegetables and alfalfa sprouts.
  • Vitamin B12 is found in meat, eggs.


  • Arnica. No home first-aid cupboard should be without the homoeopathic remedy arnica. As soon as you knock yourself, or after surgery, in fact any time your body takes a bruising, take some drops (spray or pillules) under the tongue. The more recent the bruising, the more often you take the remedy. Arnica cream (made from the herbal or homoeopathic Arnica) can be applied to the bruise, avoid applying to broken skin. Arnica as a herb is toxic, so only homoeopathic arnica is recommended to take orally.
  • The homoeopathic remedy Ruta will help for a bone bruise.
  • A group of plant pigments or bioflavonoids are effective for strengthening blood vessel walls. These include, quercetin, rutin and resveratrol. If you can find one or more combined with Vitamin C, another substance that strengthens connective tissue, this would be an excellent supplement to take in the short term for one bruise, or longer term if you frequently suffer bruises or have another connective tissue condition such as varicose veins.
  • Herbs that help treat and prevent capillary fragility include Horse Chestnut, Ginkgo biloba, bilberry, grape seed, butcher’s broom and pine bark.
  • If you are found to be Vitamin B12 deficient via a blood test, take a supplement or injection.


  • For the first few hours after the bungle, apply cold compresses. A bag of frozen peas wrapped in a towel is perfect. Compress for 10 minutes, rest for 20 minutes, keep going until you get sick of it. In between, rub in some arnica or other herbal cream mentioned above.
  • If you are bumping into things more than normal, and there is no other underlying health reason for your bruising, take a look inside your head. Are you rushing too much, or is your world going too fast? The bruising may be a warning sign to slow down. Collect your thoughts and move forward with grace and dignity.


  • 2 drops of yarrow is a great haemostatic and astringent.
  • 2 drops of german chamomile has antiphlogistic, anti-inflammatory, analgesic properties.
  • 3 drops of lavender is excellent as an analgesic and antispasmodic.
  • 3 drops of geranium is also haemostatic, anti-inflammatory and astringent.
  • The blend is most effective in 15 ml sweet almond oil mixed with 5 ml Arnica infused oil – apply gently to the bruised area as needed. You can also make it into a balm or gel. This blend is a beautiful blue, so don’t be alarmed if the bruised area appears to be darker…it’s ok!

At a glance


  • Increase vitamin C and bioflavonoid foods oranges, lemons, mandarins (eat the white pith as well), buckwheat, rye, berries, rosehip tea and rhubarb, chillies and capsicums.
  • Enjoy pineapples and pineapple juice as it contains bromelain, very good for reducing swelling and bruising.
  • Drink no more than one or two alcoholic drinks a day, otherwise you’ll bruise more than your leg.
  • Vitamin K-rich foods include all green leafy vegetables and alfalfa sprouts.


  • Arnica spray under the tongue as soon as the bruise happens.
  • Bioflavonoids, quercetin, vitamin C, rutin, resveratrol, pine bark, grape seed extract.
  • If you are a frequent bruiser, then go on a course of herbs to help strengthen blood vessel walls, these include: horse chestnut, ginkgo biloba, bilberry, grape seed and butcher’s broom.


  • Compress with ice or something cold.
  • Are you trying to fit too much into your day?