There are many possible causes of a bruised face, which can be very painful. Some people with a bruised face may also feel self-conscious, especially at work or school.
Most bruises heal on their own. However, a few treatments and remedies may speed the healing process.
Keep reading to learn more about how to help a bruised face heal.
Research on whether it is possible to speed up the healing process of bruises has produced mixed findings.
A 2013 study compared the following popular treatment methods:
- laser therapy
- bruise serum
- cold compresses
- hydrogen peroxide
The researchers found that none of the treatments led to statistically significant differences in healing time or the appearance of the bruise compared with a placebo.
However, other studies have indicated that certain treatment methods may speed healing. It may be helpful to experiment with several treatment strategies. People can try the following:
Rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE) is a standard way of treating a wide variety of injuries.
A person can rest the injury by protecting it and avoiding irritation. Doing this can be difficult when the bruise is on the face, so it is best to focus on protecting the face from further injuries by avoiding contact sports and other activities with a high risk of injury.
Ice not only helps with pain, but it can also slow bleeding, making the bruise less severe. Applying cold compresses for about 20 minutes at a time can help ease swelling and inflammation. Icing an injury during the first 24–48 hours usually provides the greatest benefit.
Using an ice pack, a person can also gently compress the affected area several times a day. Compression can reduce swelling and inflammation.
Elevating the bruised area slows blood flow to this part of the body, which can ease swelling and bleeding. At night, a person with a bruised face can sleep on an extra pillow or two to keep their face slightly elevated.
Arnica montana, or arnica, is a traditional herbal therapy that people associate with easing inflammation. It may also help with bruising. A 2016 study involving people who had undergone rhinoplasty (a nose job) compared the healing effects of arnica with those of a placebo. The results showed that arnica sped healing and reduced the intensity of bruising.
However, the study was small, comparing just 13 placebo users with nine arnica users. More research is necessary to demonstrate the effectiveness of arnica in treating other types of bruises.
Vitamin K helps the body control bleeding by supporting blood clotting. A 2009 study found that vitamin K gel could reduce the severity of bruising after laser treatment. However, the study was small and included only 20 participants. More recent research has not tested this claim, so vitamin K remains unproven as a remedy for bruises.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are a group of pain relievers that can help with swelling and inflammation. They will not heal a bruise, but they can ease pain and may help the bruise appear less swollen.
However, NSAIDs may increase bleeding, which could actually slow healing, especially in the first few hours following an injury.
Laser treatments with a pulsed-dye laser may help clear up severe bruising. A 2018 study, for example, found that lasers might reduce the appearance of bruising after cosmetic filler injections. Pulsed-dye lasers are only available in a clinical setting, so they are not a viable home treatment for bruising.
Most facial bruises do not require medical attention. However, a facial bruise may sometimes accompany a more serious injury, such as a broken bone. If a person's face appears to have collapsed, or the pain is unbearable, they should see a doctor as soon as possible in case one of the facial bones has broken.
A person should also see a doctor if:
- the bruise appears to heal but then gets worse
- there is severe bruising for no apparent reason
- the bruise does not heal within a week or two
- they have a bleeding disorder and sustain a serious bruise
- the bruise is very painful, and the pain does not improve with home treatment
Doctors sometimes call bruises contusions or ecchymosis. They occur when an injury damages blood vessels under the skin, but the skin covering the vessels remains undamaged.
Superficial bruises injure the capillaries just beneath the skin. Deeper bruises, however, can bruise muscles or bones, and they usually take longer to heal.
A sudden blow to the face can cause bruising that ranges from mild to severe. In most cases, harder blows produce deeper, more painful bruises. Some common causes of a bruised face include:
- falling and landing on the face
- running into objects, such as bookcase corners
- car accidents
- sports injuries, especially in sports such as football that tend to cause head trauma
- physical fights and altercations
Some people bruise more easily and severely than others. Numerous medical conditions and some drugs may cause easy bruising, including:
- blood thinners, including blood clot medication and over-the-counter drugs such as aspirin
- supplements that thin the blood, such as fish oil
- some antibiotics, including penicillin
- alcohol and some other drugs
- bleeding disorders, such as hemophilia
- thinning skin
- pregnancy-related eclampsia or preeclampsia
Facial bruises can be very painful, especially those on sensitive areas, such as the nose and cheeks. Most bruises heal on their own, but some treatments and remedies might help speed the healing process.
Occasionally, what seems like a bruise is, in fact, a sign of another medical condition, such as a clotting disorder.
A person who has a very painful bruise or a bruise that will not heal should seek medical care.