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Contusion In Children, Ambulatory Care

A contusion

is a bruise that appears on your child's skin after an injury. A bruise happens when small blood vessels tear but skin does not. When blood vessels tear, blood leaks into nearby tissue, such as soft tissue or muscle.

Common symptoms include the following:

  • Pain that increases when your child touches the bruise, walks, or uses the area around the bruise
  • Swelling or a lump at the site of the bruise, or near it
  • Red, blue, or black skin that may change to green or yellow after a few days
  • Stiffness or problems moving the bruised area of his body

Seek immediate care for the following symptoms:

  • Inability to feel or move the injured arm or leg
  • Pressure or a tight feeling in his injured muscle
  • Sudden increase in pain when he moves the injured area
  • Severe pain in the area of the bruise
  • Cold or pale hand or foot below the bruise

Treatment for a contusion

may include NSAIDs to decrease swelling and pain. This medicine is available with or without a doctor's order. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems in certain people. If your child takes blood thinner medicine, always ask if NSAIDs are safe for him. Always read the medicine label and follow directions. Do not give these medicines to children under 6 months of age without direction from your child's doctor.

Manage your child's symptoms:

  • Help your child rest the injured area. He may need crutches or a cane to help him walk if he bruised his leg or foot.
  • Apply ice on your child's bruise for 15 to 20 minutes every hour or as directed. Use an ice pack, or put crushed ice in a plastic bag. Cover it with a towel. Ice helps prevent tissue damage and decreases swelling and pain.
  • Wrap an elastic bandage around your child's bruised muscle. An elastic bandage helps support the area and decrease swelling. Make sure the bandage is not too tight. You should be able to fit 1 finger between the bandage and your child's skin.
  • Help your child elevate his bruised area above the level of his heart as often as he can. This will help decrease swelling and pain. Prop his bruised area on pillows or blankets to keep it elevated comfortably.

Prevent a contusion:

  • Make sure your child wears proper protective gear during sports. Some examples of protective gear include padding and shin guards. Teach your child about safety rules and how to use equipment properly.
  • Do not leave your baby alone on the bed or couch. Watch him closely as he starts to crawl, learns to walk, and when he plays.
  • Remove or cover sharp objects in your home. A young child is more likely to get injured on corners of furniture. Remove these items, or place soft pads over sharp edges and hard items in your home.

Follow up with your child's healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your child's visits.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your child's care. Learn about your child's health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your child's caregivers to decide what care you want for your child. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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