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How to Care for a Bruised Hand

A hand contusion or bruise is a mild injury that occurs because of a direct impact to the hand. When a contusion occurs, the small blood vessels get damaged and blood leaks out under the skin. This causes swelling and bruising. While a hand contusion is uncomfortable and may temporarily make it difficult to use your hand normally, it’s an injury that can resolve quickly.

Whether you have bruised your hand in a fall or from an impact, these “black-and-blue spots” can range from sore to very painful. The bruise may turn purplish black, reddish blue, or yellowish green as it heals. But bones and muscles can also get bruised. This may damage the hand but not cause a bruise that you can see.

Most bruises aren't serious and will go away on their own in 2 to 4 weeks. But sometimes a more serious hand injury might not heal on its own. Tell your doctor if you have new symptoms or your injury is not getting better over time. You may have tests to see if you have bone or nerve damage. These tests may include X-rays, a CT scan, or an MRI. If you damaged bones or muscles, you may need more treatment. If you notice any problems or new symptoms, seek medical treatment right away. Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Put ice or a cold pack on the hand for 10 to 20 minutes at a time. Put a thin cloth between the ice and your skin.

  • Prop up your hand on a pillow when you ice it or anytime you sit or lie down during the next 3 days. Try to keep your hand above the level of your heart. This will help reduce swelling.

  • Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label. If the doctor gave you a prescription medicine for pain, take it as prescribed. If you are not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask your doctor if you can take an over-the-counter medicine.

  • Be sure to follow your doctor's advice about moving and exercising your injured hand.

When should you call your doctor for additional medical treatment?

  • Your pain gets worse.

  • You have new or worse swelling.

  • You have tingling, weakness, or numbness in the area near the bruise.

  • The area near the bruise is cold or pale.

  • You have symptoms of infection, such as: Increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness. Red streaks leading from the area. Pus draining from the area. A fever.

Source: Kaiser Permanente


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