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Does Vaseline help with bruises?

Bruises are a common occurrence that most people experience at some point. They occur when blood vessels under the skin rupture, causing blood and other fluids to leak into surrounding tissues. This causes the discoloration associated with bruises. While bruises are usually harmless and fade over time, some people seek ways to speed up the healing process. This leads to the question – does applying Vaseline to bruises help them heal faster?

What Causes Bruises?

Bruises are caused by blunt force or trauma to an area of the body that damages blood vessels under the skin. Common causes of bruises include:

  • Bumping into objects like furniture or door frames
  • Sports injuries
  • Falls
  • Being hit or squeezed forcefully

When a blood vessel ruptures from trauma, blood leaks out into the surrounding tissues. This causes pain, swelling, and discoloration as the blood accumulates. The pooled blood breaks down over time, changing color from red to blue, purple, green, yellow, and brown as it fades. This color change is the visual cue of a healing bruise.

The Bruise Healing Process

Bruises go through distinct healing stages characterized by changes in color:

  • Red: In the first 1-2 days after injury, the bruise is reddish in color from the blood accumulating under the skin.
  • Blue/Purple: After 2-5 days, the hemoglobin in the blood breaks down and the bruise takes on a blue/purple tone.
  • Green: About 5-10 days after the injury, the bruise turns greenish as the hemoglobin continues to break down.
  • Yellow: After 10-14 days, the bruise takes on a yellowish or brownish appearance as the body reabsorbs the leftover blood components.
  • Brown: Eventually the bruise fades fully to a brownish color that can linger slightly longer before disappearing entirely.

The duration of each stage depends on factors like the severity of the injury, location on the body, age, and genetics. Most minor bruises heal completely within 2-3 weeks. More severe bruises with deeper blood vessels affected may take 4 weeks or longer to fully resolve.

Does Applying Vaseline Help Bruises Heal Faster?

There are many home remedies thought to help speed up healing and fade the discoloration of bruises faster. Applying petroleum jelly products like Vaseline is one of the most common. But does it really work?

The rationale behind using Vaseline for bruises lies in its ability to act as an occlusive moisturizer. By coating the skin over a bruise, it seals in moisture and supposedly promotes circulation to the area. Improved circulation and moisture content could theoretically enhance the reabsorption and breakdown of blood components.

However, there is limited scientific research specifically on the efficacy of applying Vaseline to bruises. Most evidence on using occlusive barriers like Vaseline for bruises is anecdotal. But some dermatologists theorize that the occlusion traps in heat, which may help speed up the inflammatory phase of healing. The oil in Vaseline can also keep the skin over a bruise supple and flexible to prevent re-injury.

So while Vaseline hasn???t been definitively proven to fade bruises, it likely won???t cause any harm. It may help improve comfort by reducing friction over bruised skin. If applied in a thin layer, it can also seal in moisture and provide other benefits related to hydration.

Potential Benefits of Applying Vaseline to Bruises

– May promote circulation and blood reabsorption
– Can help hydrate skin to aid healing
– Creates protective barrier to prevent re-injury
– Seals in moisture and heat to speed up inflammation
– Improves comfort over bruise by reducing friction

Potential Drawbacks of Applying Vaseline to Bruises

– Lack of strong scientific evidence that it speeds healing
– Can be messy and stain clothing
– Too thick of a layer may retain excess heat and worsen inflammation
– Petroleum jelly is not absorbable into the skin
– May clog pores and cause breakouts if applied too liberally

Other Remedies to Help Bruises

In addition to Vaseline, there are other evidence-backed techniques that may enhance bruise healing:

Cold Compresses

Applying cold compresses constricts blood vessels to reduce swelling and inflammation. Cold should be applied immediately after injury or within the first 24-48 hours to be most effective. Use wrapped ice packs, bags of frozen vegetables, or even cold water soaked towels. Apply for 10-20 minutes several times a day.

Heat After 48 Hours

While cold is best immediately after injury, applying gentle heat after the first couple days can improve circulation and speed up blood reabsorption. Use warm compresses or take warm baths to apply heat.


Wrapping the bruised area with an elastic compression bandage can minimize swelling and prevent the pooling of excess blood. Combine with cold therapy for best results.


Arnica is an herbal supplement derived from the Arnica montana plant that has demonstrated anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties in research. Taking oral Arnica supplements or applying Arnica gel topically may reduce bruising and accelerate healing.

Bromelain and Quercetin

These enzymes found naturally in pineapples and other foods act as natural blood thinners and anti-inflammatories. Supplements may minimize bruising damage and speed resolution.

Vitamin C and Vitamin K Creams

Creams containing vitamin C and vitamin K applied topically may aid collagen formation and improve blood coagulation to reduce bruising severity.

Rest, Elevation and Avoiding Re-injury

Allow bruised areas plenty of rest and avoid activities that may cause re-injury. Elevate bruised limbs above the level of the heart to minimize swelling.

When to See a Doctor for Bruising

While most minor bruises heal well on their own, it’s important to see a doctor for:

– Very large or deep bruises
– Bruises that don???t seem to be healing or continue to expand
– Bruising that seems excessive for a relatively minor injury
– Bruises accompanied by significant swelling, numbness or intense pain
– Bruises on the face, head or neck, especially with neurological changes
– Unexplained or frequent bruising with no known cause

Seek prompt medical care if you have any concerns about bruising to rule out underlying conditions, like bleeding disorders, that may require treatment.

The Bottom Line

There is limited research specifically on using Vaseline and other occlusive moisturizers to treat bruises. While it likely won???t cause any harm, there???s also no definitive proof it speeds healing. Other remedies like cold therapy, compression, arnica, enzymatic supplements and vitamin creams have more scientific evidence supporting their use.

It???s always best to consult your doctor for appropriate bruise treatment, especially if bruising is excessive or severe. But using Vaseline and other moisturizers as supportive care over a bruise probably won???t impede the natural healing process. Just avoid very thick applications that could trap in too much heat and worsen inflammation. With a thin layer to hydrate the skin, Vaseline can help bruises heal a bit more comfortably.