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Need to Know: Bruises

Claire Barnardo
Being a toddler means constant exploration and bumping into things. Here’s how to look after those bumps and bruises that are bound to happen.
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Learning to walk is a big milestone for every child, as well as every parent. But it also means that there are going to be many tumbles along the way. Bruises are an inevitable part of a toddler’s daily life. So it’s best to know how to deal with them one bump at a time.
What causes a bruise?
Research shows that bruises are the most common skin-related injury. Some children will bruise more easily than others, especially if they are fair-haired. Bruises occur when small blood vessels in the soft tissue beneath the skin’s surface are bumped and rupture. The rupture results in blood seeping into the skin, forming a blue or purple mark. As the body heals, the blood is absorbed back into the body and the colour of the bruise changes to a green or yellow tone.
What are the symptoms?
The symptoms of a bruise are most commonly associated with colour. They begin as a dark blue or purple marking, and change to green or yellow as they heal. Other symptoms include swelling of the area and pain or sensitivity to the bruised area. 
How to treat a bruise?
Bruises usually take between 10 to 14 days to heal completely. Minor bruises don’t need much treatment at all. For a more serious bruise, you can apply an ice-pack to the injured area for 15 minutes at a time to reduce the pain and swelling. If the skin is broken, treat it as you would a cut. If the bruising is painful, doctors recommend giving your toddler a small dose of pain medication like ibuprofen or paracetamol. If possible, try to encourage quiet play for your toddler to rest the bruised area.
If the pain at the site of a bruise worsens within the first 24 hours, take your toddler to the doctor – it could be an indication of an underlying fracture. Also take note of signs that could indicate there is deliberate injury or abuse taking place.  Be suspicious if the bruises are of varying ages and in multiple areas. This is especially true if the excessive bruising is in less common areas, such as on the trunk of the body, side of the face, ears, neck, upper legs or arms, and buttocks.
It’s a good idea to keep an eye on bruises that are large or raised and seem inconsistent with the type of injury, or bruises that take too long to heal. If your child gets recurrent bruises in the same area, this may be indicative of a bleeding-related illness like haemophilia, so you should see your doctor immediately. Bruises that appear out of nowhere (without a bump) and that coincide with a fever must also be seen by a doctor.
Your toddler will definitely get bumps and bruises on the way to learning how to explore the world, but as long as you know what to watch out for, they should not be anything to worry about.
BabyGroup says…

This article has been checked by Dr Lauren Lee, GP. A member of the BabyGroup Medical Council.
“Bumps and bruises are an inevitable part of being a toddler and, for the most part, need little medical attention.” Dr Lauren Lee.
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