CPR First Aid

Is Ice or Heat the First Aid to Bruises?

“Is ice or heat the first aid to bruises?”, is one of the common questions asked by people in Perth. It may be because it’s one of the usual skin injuries acquired by people of different ages. However, did you know that only one of them is considered the first aid treatment? While the other one is applied after doing the first aid response? Let’s find out below which are the first and second treatments, what each is called, and why there are confusions about which one to apply first. 

What is the First Aid to Bruises?

In a first aid course in 123C Colin St West Perth 6005, first aid to injuries and emergencies is taught how to be done properly. One of them is first aid to bruises which includes the following first aid steps:

  1. Rest in the bruised area.
  2. Ice the bruise using an ice pack that is wrapped in a towel. Leave it for 10-20 minutes. Repeat this process multiple times a day up until two days.
  3. Compress the bruised area, if it is observed to be swelling. Doing this other first aid treatment includes the use of an elastic bandage, which is among the top first aid kit materials.
  4. Elevate the bruised area.

If pain persists, taking an over-the-counter medication may be done. In addition, as mentioned above, first aid practices for bruises involve using ice, not heat.

First aid course at 123C Colin St West Perth 6005 teaches proper injury and emergency care.

Why is Heat Mentioned in First Aid to Bruises?

Even though heat is not the first aid to bruises, it is still mentioned in many treatments for bruises due to its benefits. Australia states that if heat is applied to bruises, the blood circulation is boosted and blood flow will increase. In addition, heat clears the trapped blood from the bruise and also relieves pain. These benefits of heat therapy may be the reason why people get confused and mistakenly assume that heat is the first aid to bruises, instead of ice as mentioned above.

Using heat is recommended after applying the first aid since it helps the bruise to fade after it clears the trapped blood. Heat may be considered the second treatment that helps in full recovery from bruises. So understanding what first aid is may be helpful to know when to use ice, so that the second aid (heat) may then be applied at the right time.

What is First Aid?

First Aid is the emergency treatment provided to someone who may have been injured, sick, or hurt, like someone who has acquired bruises. Since it is immediate medical attention, it must be applied right after a person acquires any of the incidents to minimise complications. Then, further medical treatment may be given by a first aider or any health professional so a patient may fully recover. It differs on the type of injury or sickness, but in bruises, it may be applying heat.

First Aid: immediate help for injury, illness. Needed right away to prevent issues. More treatment follows for full recovery.

When to Apply First Aid to Bruises?

The first aid to bruises may be done right after getting injured by it which may be within 24 to 48 hours. In doing so, the amount of blood that leaks from the blood vessels into the surrounding tissues is reduced. In addition, using ice as the first aid to bruises also prevents severe discolouration.

When to Apply Heat to Bruises?

As mentioned above, using ice is only the first aid to bruises. There is a further first aid response recommended to be done for a full recovery. This is when applying heat comes into the picture, which is ideally performed after the first 72 hours after getting the bruise according to M.D. Express.

How to Apply Heat to Bruises?

Bruises may be applied with heat using a heating pad or warm compress. It is advised to do this for 10-20 minutes multiple times in one day. Soaking in a hot bath may also be done to ease the pain and loosen up the muscles.

Apply heat to bruises with a pad or compress. Do this 10-20 mins several times daily. Hot baths help too.

What is Contrast Therapy?

Doing the bruise first aid treatment using ice, and then applying heat therapy is called contrast therapy. It is suggested to be done so there is a continued narrowing and widening of the blood vessels. This results in a full recovery and prevents post-activity swelling and muscle soreness according to Phyx. The usage of ice packs and heat pads may be one form of contrast therapy. Another one is a contrast bath that is used commonly by athletes.

What is a Contrast Bath?

A contrast therapy that involves taking alternating hot and cold baths in session is called the contrast bath. The main purpose of this technique is to improve blood circulation in the body. It also helps in treating other injuries aside from bruises.

What are the Injuries that may be Treated with a Contrast Bath?

A contrast bath therapy may help treat:

  • Oedema.
  • Stiff joints.
  • Inflammation of soft tissues.
  • Muscle spasms.
  • Painful limbs.
  • Treat muscle damage.
  • Treat painful or sore muscles.
  • Speed up recovery from injuries.

These may be felt in different parts of the body.

What is the Contrast between Bath Sites?

A contrast bath may be done to a certain part of the body where there is an injury or a bruise like:

  • Hands and/or wrists.
  • Forearms and/or elbows.
  • Feet and/or knees.
  • Ankle and/or lower legs.

If there are injuries like bruises in many of these parts, a whole body contrast bath may be done.

Is there a Cold and Heat Therapy?

If using both ice and heat is beneficial to treat bruises and other injuries, what are the results of using just one of them? Well, let’s take a look at cold and heat therapies.

What is Cold Therapy?

The first aid to bruises may be considered cold therapy. In this technique, the ice constricts the blood vessels leading to reduced inflammation and swelling. Pain is then eased by decreasing the number of muscle spasms by lowering the rate at which nerves conduct.

What are the Health Benefits of Cold Therapy?

Cold therapy helps heal bruises and provides the following benefits in general:

  • Reduce muscle soreness.
  • Helps cool the body down if you are overheated.
  • Boosts immune system.

Healthline also mentions that cold therapy may help ease the symptoms of depression.

What is Heat Therapy?

Heat therapy like using a heating pad on bruises relaxes and soothes sore, tense muscles and helps heal damaged tissue by increasing blood flow. 

What are the Health Benefits of Heat Therapy?

Aside from bruises, heat may also be applied to other parts or the entire body, even if there is no injury. This is done by many to get the following benefits as listed by Thermea:

  • Improved physical health.
  • Better sleep.
  • Boosted immune system.
  • Eliminated toxins in the body resulting in a “deep clean”.
  • Toned skin.
  • Better blood circulation.
  • Improved digestion.

All of which may result in slowing down the ageing of the body.

What are the Benefits of Heat for Psychological and Emotional health?

Performing any heat therapy also helps in:

  • Promoting mental health.
  • Encouraging relaxation.
  • Eliminating fatigue.
  • Reducing stress and tension.
  • Improving memory.
  • Enhancing mental alertness.

Heat also helps in creating peace of mind.

What are the Benefits of Heat for Athletes?

Heat also helps athletes:

  • Achieve a better athletic performance.
  • Have their muscles ache and body pain soothe.
  • Have their breathing improved.
  • Achieve body remineralization.

Body remineralization happens when the lost mineral constituents in the body are restored.


Ice is the first aid to bruises, while heat may be considered the second treatment. Applying ice may be considered a cold therapy that reduces inflammation and swelling. Using a heating pad is a form of heat therapy that helps heal damaged tissue by increasing blood flow. Usage of both treatments for bruises at different times is called contrast therapy. It is a technique that helps in full recovery from bruises and is also used mostly by athletes for its many benefits.

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