Bruises in Infants: Causes, Treatment & Preventive Measures

Bruises in Babies – Causes and Remedies

Medically Reviewed By
Dr. Gunjan Baweja (Paediatrician)
View more Paediatrician Our Panel of Experts

Babies are likely to bruise themselves as soon as they become active. In their various attempts to crawl, walk or run, they are expected to fall, tumble or bang themselves into things, thereby, inviting bruises. Bruises are minor tissue injuries ensuing from damaged blood vessels upon impact against a hard substance. Also, infants may easily bruise since their skin is delicate. Similarly, some babies may be disposed to bruising more easily as compared to others.

What Causes Bruises in Babies?

Babies may suffer bruises in the advent of a small trauma resulting from a fall, tumble or bump. Consequentially the blood vessels beneath the baby’s delicate skin may experience microscopic tears and as the blood starts to leak, haemorrhage leads to a black and blue bruise mark being formed on the skin. The bruise may persist until the blood gets absorbed by tissues, which usually takes a few weeks. With the passage of time, the colour may change to a greenish-yellow.

In very rare cases, bruises in babies may be associated with an inherited blood-related disorder like liver cirrhosis, haemophilia, etc., particularly if there are other symptoms like recurrent bleeding gums or nosebleeds.

Unexplained bruises on a baby can also be a sign of some physical abuse. Bruises on the torso, neck, ears may be prognostic of child abuse as these body areas are not likely to be bruised in normal day to day activities of a baby.

How Can You Treat Your Baby’s Bruises?

Most baby bruises usually heal in due course of time, even though they may look quite bad. Here are some useful ways to treat your baby’s bruises:

  • Placing an ice pack wrapped in a thin towel or soft cloth over your baby’s bruise for a few seconds at a given time may prove helpful. Applying the cold pack at regular intervals, especially during the initial few hours of getting a bruise, may help to lessen swelling and discomfort.
  • Elevating the bruised body part above the level of the heart, if possible, may help in decreasing the amount of blood flow to the affected area.
  • In case the bruise seems painful, as in your baby cries when his bruise is touched, consult a doctor who may prescribe some safe painkillers like acetaminophen.
  • The degree of bruising depends on the force of the trauma. An intense blow may result in severe bruising. In such instances, it is also essential to check the baby for any internal injury which may not manifest on the surface.
  • Ensure that your baby gets adequate rest, which may augment the body’s natural healing process. Shower your baby with lots of hugs, cuddles and love to ease his distress.

How Can You Treat Your Baby's Bruises?

When Should You Take Baby to a Doctor?

You should take your baby to a doctor in the following cases:

  • In case you notice multiple bruises on your child’s body that seem unexplainable.
  • If your baby has persistent bleeding gums or nosebleeds.
  • If the bruise is painful even after a couple of days.
  • If the bruise shows no sign of fading in 14 days.
  • If a lump forms over the bruise.
  • In case your baby bangs his head and develops a bruise behind his ear.
  • Your baby has difficulty moving his leg or arm after bruising his knee, ankle or wrist, elbow respectively.
  • If you notice significant swelling in and around the bruised area or any signs of infection like pus.

How to Prevent Bruises in Infants

It may not be entirely possible to prevent your baby from getting bruises. However, you can lower the possibilities by keeping in mind the following tips:

  • Consider childproofing your home to protect your baby from bruises and bumps.
  • You may also like to regulate your baby’s access to hazardous areas with door locks, safety gates and knob covers.
  • Keep unsafe items locked up or simply put them out of your baby’s reach.
  • Secure furniture which can fall over and attach edge guards to sharp corners to avoid your baby getting a bruise on his head.
  • It is not advisable to leave your baby unattended while he is awake and active. Also, keep a watchful eye on your baby when he is playing with other kids.
  • Be alert and attentive to unexplained bruising on the baby in case your baby is enrolled in a day-care or is under the care of a hired help. Address the problem immediately and don’t dismiss it as your mere doubt.

Usually, bruises are considered trivial and may not require medical intervention. Most bruises tend to heal and disappear within a few days. But owing to the susceptibility of infants, it is sensible to take note of all the bruises that your baby may incur. In some cases, severe bruises can be indicative of internal underlying medical problems.

Also Read: How to Deal with Baby Hair Tourniquet

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