If you maintain an active lifestyle—or you’re just plain clumsy—you’ve probably had a few bruises here and there. A bruise is usually not a major health problem and doesn’t require any treatment. However, self-care measures and some natural remedies might provide relief. In this article, you’ll learn about bruises and some of the essential oils that could help speed up their healing time and ease some of their symptoms.
- 1 What’s A Bruise?
- 2 Causes of a Bruise
- 3 10 Essential Oils for Bruises
- 4 3 DIY Essential Oil Recipes for Bruises
What’s A Bruise?
A bruise, also medically referred to as a contusion, is often the direct result of a blunt trauma, such as when you slip and fall or bumped into something. This leads to skin discoloration due to blood leaking from damaged or broken capillaries (the smallest blood vessels). The blood that leaked out of these capillaries collects below the skin, causing that area to undergo colorful changes as the body tries to repair it.
Types of Bruises
- Subcutaneous bruise – This is located underneath your skin.
- Intramuscular bruise – This is due to blood collecting inside your muscle, which in turn may affect its function and your mobility.
- Periosteal bruise – This is also called a bone bruise or bone contusion. This usually happens when the surface of your bone suffers a small injury. Signs and symptoms include joint swelling, pain (a day or two after the injury), and bruises.
The Colorful Stages of a Bruise
Imagine you got a bruise on your shin after you banged it on a step. The bruise on your shin will undergo the following stages:
- Immediately after the accident, the site of injury would appear pinkish or reddish, which reflects the oxygen-rich blood in your skin. The site is also likely to be swollen and tender to touch.
- Within 24 hours, your bruise could turn blue to dark purple. This is due to the swelling and poor oxygen supply at the injured site. This could last around five days.
- On the sixth day, the edges of your bruise could appear green in color. This signals the start of the healing process through the breakdown of the red protein called hemoglobin, which carries oxygen from your lungs to your body tissues.
- By the seventh day, your bruise will appear light yellow and starts to fade away until it completely disappears.
Causes of a Bruise
- Intense workout or physical activity – This is common among weightlifters and athletes. When there’s too much stress placed on your muscles, they develop microscopic tears, which in turn leads to the development of bruises.
- Sports injuries – Anyone who participates in contact sports, such as soccer and American football, is most likely going to suffer from a lot of bruises. The affected area might swell within a few minutes after the injury, and then develop bruises after a day or two.
- Diabetes – Abnormally high blood sugar levels could damage your blood vessels and interfere with your blood circulation.
- An imbalance in your hormones – People with low levels of the hormone progesterone tend to bruise easily.
- Thrombocytopenia – This is a medical condition in which your blood platelet count is low. Platelets, medically referred to as thrombocytes, help your body to create clots to stop bleeding. In severe cases, you may experience having red, purple, or brown bruises (purpura).
- Vitamin deficiency – Chronic deficiency of certain vitamins could cause a multitude of symptoms, including easy bruising. A deficiency in vitamins B12, C, and K could lead to weak blood vessels that are susceptible to breakage.
- Bleeding disorders – Bruises that appear for no apparent reason could be a symptom of a bleeding disorder, such as hemophilia, leukemia, liver cirrhosis, vitamin K deficiency, and anemia.
- Advanced age – Elderly people have thin skin, which makes it easier to bruise.
Getting Rid of a Bruise
Most bruises don’t require a trip to the doctor. They usually fade away without complications after two weeks or sooner. If your bruise doesn’t heal within two weeks, see your doctor immediately. 1 Elevating the bruised area (if possible), taking over-the-counter painkillers, and placing something cold (and something warm later) on the bruised area often help. Some use the following essential oils for bruises:
10 Essential Oils for Bruises
Lemon Essential Oil
Lemon (Citrus limon) essential oil is extensively used for promoting radiant, young-looking, and healthy skin. It’s believed to be rich in vitamin C (ascorbic acid), which is not only great for an aging skin, but it also helps repair broken tiny blood vessels and lower the risk of bruising. 2
This essential oil derived from lemon rinds is often used to reduce inflammation and improve blood flow. 3 These qualities of lemon essential oil would be a great help on the fourth day after the injury to ease the swelling and pain and to lighten the appearance of your bruise.
It also supports a healthy immune system by triggering the production of white blood cells (leukocytes), which are responsible for protecting your body against infections. 4 How does this help with healing bruises? Your white blood cells are part of the “clean up squad.” They gobble up the blood that has leaked out of your damaged blood vessels, which causes your bruise to slowly fade away.
Combines well with these essential oils: fennel, geranium, eucalyptus, frankincense, sandalwood, ylang ylang, and peppermint.
Lemon essential oil is not associated with serious side effects. However, you do need to dilute it properly, as it can be irritating. You also need to avoid going out in the sun for at least 12 to 24 hours after application because it causes photosensitivity reactions, such as blistering, pain, burning, and/or itching.
Perform a skin patch test to determine if you’re allergic to this essential oil. Simply apply a drop or two of its diluted form on your inner forearm and wait for 24 hours for any reactions. If you experience any negative effects, don’t use it and consult your doctor (if necessary).
Helichrysum Essential Oil
Helichrysum, also called “The Everlasting Flower,” has been used for thousands of years for its medicinal properties. Various studies have shown that it can effectively reduce inflammation in different ways: cortisone-like actions, neutralize free radicals, and pro-inflammatory enzyme inhibition. 5 Thus, it’s an ideal remedy for bruising.
Helichrysum (Helichrysum italicum) essential oil contains compounds that have antioxidant actions. 6 Oral and topical antioxidants help in the production of collagen, which is important for strengthening and repairing damaged blood vessels. To improve your skin and reduce bruising, add 3 drops of helichrysum essential oil and 3 drops of lavender essential oil in 2 teaspoons of carrier oil. Gently apply 1-2 drops over your bruise.
Combines well with these essential oils: clary sage, rose, lavender, bergamot, mandarin, rosewood, and chamomile.
Like with most essential oils, helichrysum essential oil can be irritating and toxic if you use it undiluted. Don’t use it if you’re pregnant, breastfeeding, allergic to any plants belonging in the Asteraceae/Compositae family (e.g., ragweed, marigold, sunflower, and daisy), and/or have a medical condition involving your gallbladder or bile ducts.
Cypress Essential Oil
Cypress essential oil is generally derived from the leaves of the tall evergreen tree, Cupressus sempervirens (Italian cypress). When inhaled, the fresh and herb-like aroma of cypress essential oil has energizing and soothing effects.
The medicinal benefits of this essential oil are attributed to its major active compounds, such as alpha-pinene, linalool, camphene, beta pinene, bornyl acetate, alpha-terpinene, carene, myrcene, terpinolene, sabinene, cadinene, and cedrol. 7 For instance, alpha-pinene has the capability to reduce inflammation, fight disease-causing microscopic organisms (fungi and bacteria), and support skin health and proper immune system function. Aside from being an anti-inflammatory, linalool is also a pain reliever. Aside from being a pain reliever, camphene also has antioxidant effects.
Cypress essential oil is classified as hemostatic and styptic. 8 Meaning, it can stop bleeding by constricting your blood vessels. By constricting your blood vessels, it helps reduce swelling and bruising.
Combines well with these essential oils: wild orange, lime, lemon, clary sage, bergamot, lavender, juniper berry, sandalwood, rosemary, and marjoram.
There are no serious side effects associated with cypress essential oil. However, if you have a sensitive skin or any allergy, dilute it properly and perform a skin patch test. Some of the best carrier oils that you can mix with this essential oil are argan, sunflower, and jojoba oils. This is not recommended for children and pregnant or breastfeeding women because it can regulate menstrual flow.
Lavender Essential Oil
Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) essential oil is one of the most popular “sleeping pills” of the aromatherapy world. However, it can do more than that. It also has medicinal compounds that could help prevent or heal bruises.
Having too many free radicals—highly reactive, short-lived, small particles—can wreak havoc in your body. They’re mostly blamed for causing most modern degenerative diseases, such as cancer, diabetes, and asthma. They can damage your blood vessels by breaking down collagen (which composes the walls of your blood vessels) and elastin (which keeps your blood vessels elastic). This causes them to tear or rupture easily, which in turn leads to bruising.
With the help of powerful antioxidants, these harmful effects of excess free radicals can be prevented or reversed. A study published in the Annals of the Brazilian Academy of Sciences has shown that lavender essential oil can enhance the action of glutathione, catalase, and superoxide dismutase (SOD)—all of which act as antioxidants. 9
Lavender essential oil is also a pain-reliever and anti-inflammatory agent. 10 Bruises are normally painless, but sometimes they can be a bit or extremely painful. If your bruise is painful, simply apply a few drops of diluted lavender essential oil on the affected area. It could be a more effective pain reliever if you mix it with other essential oils, such as peppermint, clary sage, and marjoram.
It’s also good for blood sugar control, a study suggests. 11 In the study, researchers used lavender essential oil on lab rats. On the fifteenth day, the result has shown that it controlled common complications of high blood sugar levels (hyperglycemia), specifically high blood sugar levels, kidney or liver problems, and increased weight. Elevated blood sugar levels can lead to increased production of free radicals, which could damage your blood vessels and cause bruises over time.
Combines well with these essential oils: pine, cedarwood, clary sage, nutmeg, geranium, and citrus essential oils (e.g., bergamot, lemongrass, neroli, grapefruit, and lemon).
It’s rare for lavender essential oil to trigger negative effects when used externally. Just to be sure you’re not allergic to it, always perform a skin patch test prior to liberal application. The following should refrain from using this essential oil: boys who haven’t hit puberty, people who perform tasks that require mental alertness, and people taking sedatives.
Rosemary Essential Oil
This essential oil comes from the flower and leaf of the herb Rosmarinus officinalis, commonly known as rosemary. It’s frequently used for growing new hair and has long been valued by many cultures for its energizing aroma. When used on the skin, it may help treat the symptoms of a bruise in different ways.
Rosemary essential oil is a powerful antioxidant, with an ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) value of 11, 070. 12 (The ORAC scale measures the antioxidant capacity of an essential oil.) As I’ve explained earlier, in theory, it’s possible for essential oils to fight the harmful effects of free radicals on your skin and blood vessels when you use it topically or internally. It also helps reduce inflammation and swelling around the injured site.
You can also use rosemary essential oil in combination with over-the-counter painkillers, such as paracetamol. In a study published in the European Review for Medical and Pharmacological Sciences, it’s mostly composed of 1, 8-cineole, camphor, and alpha-pinene that are responsible for its ability to eliminate pain. 13
Combines well with these essential oils: sage, frankincense, basil, chamomile, lavender, lemongrass, peppermint, eucalyptus, and citronella.
Rosemary essential oil can be irritating to the skin. To avoid adverse skin reactions, dilute it in a mild carrier oil and test for allergies. Never ingest this essential oil because it can cause serious side effects. This is not for younger children, pregnant or breastfeeding women, and people with abnormally low (hypoglycemia) or high (hyperglycemia) blood sugar levels.
Yarrow Essential Oil
Yarrow (Achillea millefolium or Achillea ligustica) has been frequently used in traditional medicine for treating wounds, burns, ear pain, and bruises. 14 The essential oil derived from this herb has the same medicinal effects because of astringent and cicatrisant (skin-healing) properties, thus it may help heal wounds with minor bleeding and minimize bruising. 15 Due to its astringent properties, it shrinks the blood vessels that could be damaged and bleeding.
Blue yarrow essential oil is also anti-inflammatory in nature, which is mainly due to its high levels of azulene (up to 51%). 16 Applying a few drops of its diluted form on the site of injury could help ease the swelling and pain.
Combines well with these essential oils: chamomile, cedarwood, pine, clary sage, angelica, myrrh, frankincense, and black pepper.
Use yarrow essential oil in small doses for short periods of time. It’s poisonous to nerve tissue, so it’s not advisable to use it for extended periods of time and in high dosages. Possible side effects of this essential oil are skin irritation and headache. This is not for pregnant or breastfeeding women, children (below 6 years old), people with abnormally low blood pressure (below 90/60 mmHg) and epilepsy, alcoholics, and people who are taking medications for a sleeping problem.
Wintergreen Essential Oil
Wintergreen essential oil is derived from the leaves of the Gaultheria procumbens plant, commonly known as the American wintergreen, checkerberry, boxberry, and eastern teaberry. It has a sweet and mint-like fragrance that uplifts and soothes your senses.
Wintergreen essential oil is valued for its powerful anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving actions. This is due to its high concentrations of methyl salicylate (approximately 85% to 99%). 17 This organic compound works by numbing the injured area, while improving blood flow. As your bruise starts to heal, stimulating blood flow will help clear away the pooled fluids or blood.
Wintergreen essential oil also acts as an astringent. 18 When you get a cut or scrape, it stops it from bleeding by constricting your body tissues small blood vessels and body tissues to prevent blood leakage. The good thing about it is it penetrates past the superficial layers of your skin, which is an important quality to effectively heal bruises.
Combines well with these essential oils: basil, bergamot, geranium, cypress, lemongrass, lavender, peppermint, and marjoram.
Use pure wintergreen essential oil with extreme caution because it contains high levels of methyl salicylate. Due to the presence of this organic compound, ingesting this essential oil is highly discouraged. The Oregon State University says that taking 10 ml to 30 ml of wintergreen essential oil could be lethal to a child and adult. 19
Examples of its side effects are blistering, serious burns, breathing difficulties, hives, damaged liver and/or kidneys, pain, and swelling.
This is not for children (14 years or younger), people who are allergic to salicylate, people who are taking medicines for preventing blood clots, and people with bleeding disorders.
Cinnamon Essential Oil
Cinnamon (Cinnamomum zeylanicum or Cinnamomum verum) has a long list of health benefits. It has shown to be a valuable tool in managing diabetes. Some research findings have shown that it may cause better blood sugar levels by reducing insulin resistance and improve lipid profile by lowering LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol, triglycerides, and total cholesterol. 20 21
Like the spice, cinnamon essential oil is extensively used for blood sugar control. High concentrations of blood sugar could damage your blood vessels over time, which in turn causes bruises and damage to organs.
Initially, you want to limit the amount of blood that goes to the injured area with ice and compression to lessen bruising. After 3 to 4 days, apply heat to dilate your blood vessels and circulate the blood that has pooled under your skin, which sometimes happens after an injury.
A good alternative to heat application is cinnamon essential oil. Cinnamon essential oil can enhance the function of nitric oxide. 22 The inner lining of your blood vessels (endothelium) uses nitric oxide to stimulate nearby involuntary muscle to dilate, thus increasing blood flow and reducing inflammation.
Combines well with these essential oils: tea tree (melaleuca), black pepper, ginger, clove, cardamom, geranium, frankincense, bergamot, lavender, grapefruit, wild orange, ylang ylang, and lemon.
High-quality cinnamon essential oil is considered safe to apply on your skin or taken by mouth. However, there’s still a chance that other people might negatively react to this essential oil. Some of its possible side effects are nausea, skin sensitization, burns, headache, fast heartbeat, and high blood pressure. This is not for children, pregnant or breastfeeding women, and people with medical problems (e.g., hypertension, abnormally low blood sugar levels, and reproductive problems).
Geranium Essential Oil
This essential oil is derived from the flower or leaf of geranium (Pelargonium graveolens), a flowering plant. Ancient Egyptians used this essential oil to promote a beautiful and healthy skin. Today, it’s valued for its many health benefits—from treating common skin issues to alleviating anxiety to reducing inflammation.
Geranium essential oil limits blood flow, which it owes to its astringent properties. 23 This allows it to compress blood vessels to slow down or block the flow of blood to the area where you applied it. Thus, it’s a good initial remedy for bruises.
A few studies have also shown that geranium essential oil has a strong antioxidant activity, which is comparable to vitamin C (ascorbic acid). 24 This property of geranium essential oil allows it to effectively neutralize the harmful effects of free radicals on your blood vessels and lower the inflammation in your body, with little to no side effects.
Combines well with these essential oils: bergamot, basil, clary sage, carrot seed, neroli, jasmine, citronella, cedarwood, lavender, grapefruit, rosemary, wild orange, and lime.
Geranium essential oil doesn’t normally cause severe side effects. However, there’s still a chance that it may irritate sensitive skin. It’s best to perform a skin patch test first prior to liberal application.
There are currently not enough studies regarding the safety of geranium essential oil in pregnant women. Experts strongly advise against using it on babies and young children because of reported toxic effects and even death.
Lemongrass Essential Oil
One of the active chemical compounds of lemongrass (Cymbopogon flexuosus) essential oil is limonene. It’s responsible for most of its touted benefits, like treating infections, pain, and inflammation. 25
Lemongrass essential oil may also help keep the structure of your blood vessels healthy and intact. Studies have indicated that it has powerful antioxidant effects, allowing it to effectively neutralize the harmful effects of free radicals, such as damaged blood vessels and organs. 26 Some people use it for varicose veins, bruises, minor bleeding, and swelling because of its ability to shrink blood vessels and body tissues. 27
Combines well with these essential oils: lavender, eucalyptus, cedarwood, basil, lavandin, jasmine, coriander, rosemary, tea tree oil, and geranium.
Lemongrass essential oil is considered safe if you properly blend it with a mild carrier oil and use it in small amounts. Some of its possible side effects if you use it topically are rashes, skin irritation, and a burning sensation. This is not for people who are taking medications for diabetes and hypertension and are suffering from any medical problems (e.g., diabetes, kidney or liver disease, hypertension, hypoglycemia, and allergies).
3 DIY Essential Oil Recipes for Bruises
#1 – Topical Gel for Pain Relief
Ingredients and Materials
- 10 drops of chamomile essential oil
- 10 drops of rosemary essential oil
- 12 to 14 teaspoons of mild carrier oil (e.g., avocado oil, coconut oil, and almond oil)
- 4-ounce amber glass bottle with dropper
- Pour your carrier oil to your amber glass bottle with dropper.
- Add the essential oils one drop at a time. Stir to mix well then store in a cool, dark place.
- Gently shake the bottle before every use. Apply a small amount on your inner forearm and wait for 24 hours to test for allergic reactions.
- Massage a drop or two of the mixture into the affected area. Never use it on broken skin.
#2 – Arnica Salve with Essential Oils
Ingredients and Materials
- 5 cup of arnica dried flowers – Arnica is often used for treating pain, inflammation, sprains, and bruises.
- 25 cup of organic beeswax pastilles
- 1 cup of any mild carrier oil of your choice (e.g., sweet almond oil, jojoba oil, and coconut oil)
- 10 to 20 drops of geranium essential oil and rosemary essential oil
- Heat-resistant bowl
- Dark-colored mason jar with air-tight lid
To make your own arnica oil:
- Mince the dried arnica flowers then pour them to a heat-resistant bowl.
- Pour heated carrier oil to the bowl with the minced arnica. Let it infuse for an hour or so before straining out the minced arnica flowers.
To make the salve:
- If you have a double boiler (recommended), fill the bottom pan at least 2 inches of water. If you don’t have a double boiler, you could use a large saucepan or microwave. Melt the organic beeswax pastilles over low heat. Stir well then add the carrier oil.
- Remove the pan from the heat and allow the mixture to cool a little before adding 4 drops of arnica oil, 10 drops of geranium essential oil, and 10 drops of rosemary essential oil. Stir well to mix.
- Transfer the mixture to a dark-colored mason jar with air-tight lid. Store in a cool, dark place.
- Perform a skin patch test prior to liberal application. Then, apply a small amount on your bruises to speed up healing. Never use it on broken skin.
#3 – Essential Oil Blend for Healthy Blood Vessels
Ingredients and Materials
- 3 drops of lemongrass essential oil
- 3 drops of lavender essential oil
- 5 drops of geranium essential oil
- 5 drops of cypress essential oil
- 8 teaspoons of carrier oil (e.g., coconut oil, sweet almond oil, and avocado oil)
- Amber glass bottle with dropper
- Pour the carrier of your choice into the amber glass bottle with dropper.
- Add the essential oils one drop at a time. Stir well using a stainless steel or glass stirrer, or you can gently shake the bottle.
- Perform a skin patch test before using it generously on the injured areas. Massage* the area, but don’t apply too much pressure to promote blood flow.
*Avoid massaging your bruise for the first 1 to 3 days because it can lead to more damaged blood vessels and a worse-looking bruise. Within the first 1 to 3 days, apply ice in a clean towel for 15 to 20 minutes each hour to reduce swelling and promote healing.
When to Seek Medical Care for a Bruise
Bruises are common and usually not harmful. However, there are some cases when a bruise warrants emergency medical attention. It’s important that you know what type of bruise you have, as well as the proper treatment for it and when you should seek medical care.
When should you be worried about bruising?
Boots WebMD suggests seeking medical advice if the following signs and symptoms are present:
- Severe pain (especially after taking a medication for blood clots)
- Having bruises without apparent cause
- If the bruise is under your fingernail or toenail
- If the bruise doesn’t fade after two to four weeks
- If your bruise is due to a broken bone
So, what are your surefire tips for treating bruises? Do you think essential oils will help? Don’t forget to share your thoughts and tips by leaving your comments below.
 KidsHealth: https://kidshealth.org/en/kids/bruise.html
   Mercola: https://articles.mercola.com/herbal-oils/lemon-oil.aspx
  Dr. Axe: https://draxe.com/helichrysum-essential-oil/
 Christelle Pierre-Leandri, Xavier Fernandez, Louisette Lizzani-Cuvelier, et al. (2003). Chemical Composition of Cypress Essential Oils: Volatile Constituents of Leaf Oils from Seven Cultivated Cupressus Species. Journal of Essential Oil Research. Vol. 15, Issue 4, Pages 242-247. Retrieved from https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10412905.2003.9712130
  Silva GL, Luft C, Lunardelli A, et al. (2015 Aug). Antioxidant, analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects of lavender essential oil. Annals of the Brazilian Academy of Sciences. Vol. 87, 2 Suppl, Pages 1397-408. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26247152
 Sebai H, Selmi S, Rtibi K, et al. (2013 Dec 28). Lavender (Lavandula stoechas L.) essential oils attenuate hyperglycemia and protect against oxidative stress in alloxan-induced diabetic rats. Lipids in Health and Disease;12:189. doi: 10.1186/1476-511X-12-189. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24373672
 Dr. Axe: https://draxe.com/rosemary-oil-uses-benefits/
 Raskovic A, Milanovic I, Pavlovic N, et al. (2015 Jan). Analgesic effects of rosemary essential oil and its interactions with codeine and paracetamol in mice. European Review for Medical and Pharmacological Sciences. Vol. 19, No. 1, Pages 165-72. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25635991
 OilHealthBenefits.com: http://oilhealthbenefits.com/yarrow-essential-oil/
 The Ananda Apothecary: https://www.anandaapothecary.com/blue-yarrow-essential-oil
  Mercola.com: http://articles.mercola.com/herbal-oils/wintergreen-oil.aspx
 Priyanga Ranasinghe, Sanja Perera, Mangala Gunatilake, et al. (2012 Apr-Jun). Effects of Cinnamomum zeylanicum (Ceylon cinnamon) on blood glucose and lipids in a diabetic and healthy rat model. Pharmacognosy Research. Vol. 4, Issue 2, Pages 73-79. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3326760/
 Dr. Axe: https://draxe.com/cinnamon-oil/
 About Essential Oils: https://abouteos.com/geranium-essential-oil/
 Meenapriya M and Dr. Jothi Priya. (2017). Effect of Lemongrass Oil on Rheumatoid Arthritis. Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Research. Vol. 9, Issue 2, Pages 237-239. Retrieved from http://jpsr.pharmainfo.in/Documents/Volumes/vol9Issue02/jpsr09021734.pdf
 Reena Lawrence, Kapil Lawrence, Rashmi Srivastava, and Deepti Gupta. (2015). Antioxidant activity of lemon grass ESSENTIAL OIL (Cympopogon citratus) grown in North Indian plains. The Scientific Temper. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/307583343_Antioxidant_activity_of_lemon_grass_ESSENTIAL_OIL_Cympopogon_citratus_grown_in_North_Indian_plains