Joan Wilen and Lydia Wilen are folk-remedy experts and home tipsters based in New York City. They have spent decades collecting “cures from the cupboard” and are authors of several books, including Secret Food Cures.
Ecchymosis or bruising occurs when blood pools under the skin due to broken blood vessels creating a dark or colorful mark under the skin. They can be an inconvenience due to bumping into a bed post during a midnight trip to the restroom, or an unsightly and painful black eye from a missed baseball catch. Getting rid of a bruise fast is matter or reducing inflammation and inducing the collected blood to move away from the skin. Natural remedies can help speed this process up.
In the below excerpt from Secret Food Cures authors Joan and Lydia Wilen provide advice on how to get rid of a bruise fast.
Ouch! Bruises generally appear when the skin has undergone some form of trauma (minor or not) that caused little blood vessels to break. This can happen from bumping into the edge of a table or from something more serious like a car accident.
Most minor bruises will go away on their own with time (usually after going through a rainbow of colors), but these remedies may speed up the healing process.
To prevent and heal common, everyday bruises…
• Apply a cold pack or ice wrapped in a washcloth as soon as possible after the injury. Hold for 20 minutes. Repeat several times. Cold constricts blood vessels, shortens clotting time, and can reduce blood leakage from capillaries.
• Elevate the injured area higher than your heart. The longer you can do this, the better. It reduces blood flow to the injury.
• Take vitamin C. Vitamin C makes capillaries less fragile. Extra vitamin C is particularly important if you’re taking aspirin or corticosteroids, drugs that can strip vitamin C from the body. The amount in a multi-supplement, typically 60 to 100 mg, usually is adequate.
Bonus: Most multi-supplements also contain zinc, a mineral that may reduce capillary leakage.
• If you close a door or drawer on your finger, prepare a poultice of grated onion and salt and apply it to the bruised area. The pain will disappear within seconds.
• Place ice on a bruise to help prevent the area from turning black and blue, and to reduce the swelling. If ice is not available, immediately press a metal knife (flat side only—we’re talking bruises, not amputation) or spoon on the bruise for five to 10 minutes.
•Make a salve by mashing pieces of parsley into a teaspoon of butter. Gently rub the salve on the bruise.
• Grate a piece of turnip or a piece of daikon (Japanese radish). Apply the grated root to the bruise and leave it there for 15 to 30 minutes. These two roots have been known to help improve the look of the bruise.
• Spread a thin layer of blackstrap molasses on a piece of brown paper (grocery bag) and apply the molasses side to the bruise. Bind it in place and leave it there for a few hours.
• Peel a banana and apply the inside of the peel to the bruise. It will lessen the pain, reduce the discoloration and speed healing. Bind the peel in place with a bandage.
• Mix two tablespoons of cornstarch with one tablespoon of castor oil. Dampen a clean white cloth and make a cornstarch/castor oil poultice. Apply the poultice to the bruise and leave it on until the damp cloth gets dry.
WARNING: Most bruises are just evidence of an active life—but if you get a bruise and it doesn’t go away or you keep getting bruises, it could be a sign of a dangerous medical condition. Schedule an appointment with your doctor.
Large, flat brown spots on your face and hands may be called age spots or liver spots. Many fair-skinned people develop them in middle age from an accumulation of pigment (color) in the skin.
CAUTION: Any suspicious mark or skin discoloration should be evaluated by a dermatologist to rule out skin cancer.
The following remedies may not produce instant results. Keep in mind that these brown spots, thought to be caused by sun damage or a nutrition deficiency, took years to form. Give the remedy you use a few months to work. Then, if there’s no change, try another remedy. It may take some trial and error to find what works best for you.
• Grate an onion and squeeze it through cheesecloth so that you have one teaspoon of onion juice. Mix it with two teaspoons of vinegar and massage the brown spots with this liquid. Do it daily—twice a day, if possible—until you no longer see spots in front of your eyes.
• This Israeli remedy calls for chickpeas. You may know them as garbanzo beans, ceci or arbus. If you don’t want to prepare them from scratch, buy canned chickpeas. Mash about 1 ⁄3 cup and add a little water. Smear the paste on the brown spots and leave it there until it dries and starts crumbling off. Then wash it off completely. Do this every evening.
Once a day, swallow a vitamin E capsule (check with your doctor for amount). In addition, at bedtime, puncture an E capsule, squish out the oil and rub it on the brown spots, leaving it on overnight. Wear white cotton gloves to avoid messing up your sheets.
• A variation of this remedy is to rub on castor oil and take the vitamin E orally.
• If you have access to fresh figs, try cutting one in half and placing the halves under your eyes. You should, of course, lie down and relax for 15 to 30 minutes. Okay, fig face, time to get up and gently rinse the sticky stuff off with tepid water. Dab on some peanut oil.
• When figs are not in season, grate an unwaxed cucumber or a small scrubbed (preferably red) potato. Put the gratings on two gauze pads, lie down and put them under your eyes. Rinse thoroughly and dab on some peanut oil.
We met a friend who had a shiner. We asked, “Did someone give you a black eye?” He answered, “No. I had to fight for it.”
Black eyes are essentially bruises that are located around the eye socket. These remedies should help reduce the swelling and take away some of the color.
• Eat ripe pineapple and ripe papaya—lots of it—for two or three days and let the enzymes in those fruits help eliminate the discoloration around the eye. If you can’t get fresh pineapple or papaya, try papaya pills (available at health food stores). Take one after every meal. Both fruits are rich in vitamin C, which also promotes healing.
• If you were a character in a movie and you got a black eye, in the following scene you would be nursing it with a piece of raw steak.
Cut! The steak may have bacteria that you don’t want on your eye, and since the only reason it’s being used is because it’s cold, retake the scene with a package of frozen vegetables or a cold, wet cloth. Leave it on the bruised area for about 20 minutes, off for 10 minutes, on for 20, off for 10. Get the picture?
• Make a poultice by mixing two tablespoons of salt with two tablespoons of lard or vegetable shortening. Spread the mixture on a cloth and place it over the bruised eye. This poultice may help eliminate the bruised cells around the eye by stimulating the circulation. Be especially careful not to get the salty lard in your eye.
• Pour witch hazel on a cotton pad and apply it to the bruised, closed eye. Lie down with your feet slightly higher than your head for a half-hour while the witch hazel stays in place.
• Peel and grate a potato (a red potato is best). Make a poultice out of it and keep it on the black eye for 20 minutes. Potassium chloride is one of the most effective healing compounds, and potatoes are the best source of potassium chloride. (This remedy is also beneficial for bloodshot eyes.)