We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

How do I Treat a Shin Bruise?

By Erin J. Hill
Updated Mar 03, 2024
Our promise to you
The Health Board is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At The Health Board, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Treating a shin bruise is typically a matter of applying some simple first aid techniques. An ice pack can help reduce the swelling and discoloration, and mild pain relief medication is usually enough to alleviate the discomfort. Severe bruising or broken skin might require additional measures, such as cleaning and dressing the wound. Most of the time at-home treatment is adequate for these types of injuries; however, professional medical attention might be needed when bruising is unexplained or persistent, or if an individual is at risk of complications.

First Aid for Simple Bruises

Bruises develop when the capillaries in or under the skin are damaged, allowing blood to leak into tissues and muscle. For most people, shin bruises are not serious, but they often cause some discomfort. Minor pain can be alleviated with an over-the-counter medication such as acetaminophen, but it is best to avoid medications such as aspirin and ibuprofen, as these can encourage bleeding. This is particularly important for someone who is taking blood thinning medications such as warfarin.

The first instinct for most people upon sustaining a shin injury is to rub the affected area, and this can be helpful for minor bruises. If the damage is severe, it’s better to resist the urge to massage the area for the first day or two. Rubbing can help relieve some of the immediate pain, but for a severe or bleeding bruise, it can make it worse in the longer term, as it encourages more blood to flow into the area. For similar reasons, heat should not be applied to bruised skin.

If the injured area is swollen, elevate the leg to help bring the swelling down and apply a cold compress or ice to reduce the pain. An ice pack can be as simple as placing ice in a sturdy plastic bag or simply a bag of frozen peas or corn. The pack can be applied for 15 to 20 minutes per session every three to four hours. In most cases, the swelling will go away after a couple of days.

As the injury heals, it will fade from dark blue and purple to shades of green, golden brown, and yellow before the skin returns to its usual coloring. The pattern of colors tends to be similar for light to medium-brown skin tones, although the colors are darker, and color changes typically less obvious, on darker-toned skin. Mild to moderate bruises normally heal within two weeks, and as long as the discoloration begins to fade within two or three days, no additional treatment is needed.

If the Skin is Broken

In medical terms, a bruise accompanied by broken skin is referred to a wound, or as bleeding. Treating such an injury might require a couple of additional steps to ensure it heals safely. If there are any open areas of skin, clean them thoroughly with an antiseptic solution and cover them with a clean dressing. It is safe to use ice on the bruising, but the ice pack should be wrapped in a towel or other fabric to ensure the skin around the wound stays dry. A large or deep wound should be examined by a healthcare provider.

Complications

People who are older, have diabetes, or who have poor circulation in the legs for other reasons have an increased risk of developing shin ulcers as a result of severe bruising. This is particularly true if any skin breakage accompanies the injury. For people who are at risk, it’s worth taking extra care to avoid injury and to keep a close eye on any wounds that do occur. To be safe, consider getting anything other than a minor bruise checked by a doctor or another medical professional.

Unexplained or Persistent Bruises

In most cases, it’s easy to pinpoint the cause of a shin injury as a fall or another type of minor accident; however, if you find that you are bruising more easily or severely, or developing bruises that you cannot account for, there might be an underlying medical condition at fault. This is also a possibility if you have a wound that is slow to heal. In either case, it’s important to seek the advice of your healthcare provider to rule out any potentially serious causes. Possible causes of unexplained or slow-healing bruises include blood-clotting disorders and leukemia, making prompt diagnosis and treatment vital.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By anon1004240 — On Dec 20, 2020

I often have bruises on my shins because I'm super clumsy and bump into stuff all the time. As I mentioned on another page here, I hit my shin pretty hard on the open dishwasher door about a week ago. The bruise is still there but it's beginning to fade. Yesterday I hit my other shin on a shopping cart. As usual, all I did was rubbing (and groaning with pain). I rarely put ice on my bruises.

By anon277071 — On Jun 27, 2012

20 minutes minimum on ice pack. Stay away from heat when there is swelling. Heat promotes healing, but worsens inflammation.

By Sara007 — On May 02, 2011

I often get shin bruises from wandering around my house and not paying much attention to the surrounding objects. I must say that they hurt like nothing else!

Does anyone know how long to keep on the ice or hot compresses to reduce swelling? I hate having a painful swollen mark there.

The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.