Injuries are common and everyone will have to deal with them at one point in their lives. Serious injuries can cause complications such as fractured bones and internal bleeding inside the skull. Minor injuries such as when blunt object hits your shinbone usually lead to mild bleeding under the skin and lumps known as hematomas.
Hematomas are harmless and rarely require medical treatment. They however do cause skin discoloration and some can be painful. This article discusses how to treat hematomas, their causes and types.
Facts about a hematoma lump under skin
Before we start on how to treat one, it is important that we first discuss what a hematoma lump is. Here are some facts about hematomas.
A hematoma develops when blood vessels are damaged and as a result leak blood. The blood collects and clots to form a lump under the skin. For example, you can have a hematoma lump on scrotum after vasectomy.
You can’t have a hematoma without a bruise.
Most hematomas are black-and-blue in color.
The severity of injury determines how large a lump will be. If you have a hematoma leg lump, it can tend to spread towards gravity. It is for this reason that a hematoma lump on top of shoulder will tend to be smaller and faster in healing than one in lower extremities.
Although they are considered harmless and without need for treatment, hematomas that form rapidly after a severe injury can be signs of serious damage such as a bone fracture.
If you have been involved in an accident or injury of some kind, be glad when a hematoma forms. Blood clots that form inside internal organs such as the stomach or brain are very serious.
If you notice recurring bruises and hematomas, it is time you checked with your doctor. As much as treatment is not needed for either, they are signs of an underlying condition that requires immediate treatment.
Hematomas types are named based on the part of the body they occur. Splenic hematoma occurs in the spleen, hepatic in liver, subdural in brain tissue and subungual under the nail.
How to treat a hematoma hard lump
The RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) protocol is commonly used to treat a hematoma hard lump. Pictures, images and video illustrations are available to guide you on the process. It involves;
Resting and avoiding activities that will require mobilization of the affected muscles will discourage further swelling and bleeding. Rest for the first 36-48 hours after the injury. After this period, try exercises that will encourage vasodilatation.
Ice treatment works by reducing bleeding. It is best done 24-36 hours after the injury. Wrap some ice packs in a plastic bag and cover with a small towel. Hold the ice packs on the hematoma for about 10-15 minutes. Repeat this 5 times a day. Ice treatment can also help with a painful lump on back of head due to a swollen lymph node. If you can’t access ice backs, try a spoon which has been refrigerated for 15 minutes.
Compression is aimed at reduce swelling. Here, you can dress the lump with an elastic bandage. This is however not always necessary. A better approach is to warm compress on the lump. Warm compress encourages blood flow to and from the affected region. Don’t carry out this treatment immediately the lump has formed. Wait until the damaged blood vessels enter the healing phase, that is 24-48 hours after injury.
If you have a hematoma leg lump for example, elevate the leg in such a way that it is above the level of the heart. This is especially after the injury. Elevation aims to decrease accumulation of blood and lymphatic fluid in the injured area. Elevation and rest go hand in hand.
Tips to treat a hematoma lump under skin at home
Other than the RICE protocol, here are other tips for how to treat a hematoma lump at home;
Try massaging the skin around the hematoma in circular motions. Do this about 24 hours after the injury.
Take a warm bath after the lump has already formed and has entered the recovery phase. The warm bath will encourage flow of blood which fastens repair.
Dip the affected area in warm water bath prepared with Epsom salt. Wait until the water cools and rinse with fresh water.
Place sliced onion pieces on the hematoma for about 15 minutes. Onions are known to discourage accumulation of lymphatic fluid around swellings.
Prepare a solution with water and witch hazel extract. Soak a small towel in the solution and rub it on the hematoma lump. Witch hazel is a natural astringent. Furthermore, it may help with skin discoloration caused by a bruise.
Add a pinch of turmeric powder to a glass of milk and drink. Turmeric is a powerful anti-inflammatory remedy and may help reduce swelling.
Take pain relievers if the hematoma is causing pain.
Medical treatment for hematoma hard lump
If an old hematoma or a recently formed one is causing symptoms such as headaches, weakness and pain, it should be treated by a doctor. Also, see your doctor if you are having a hematoma in sensitive parts of the body, a hard lump on scrotum after injury for example. So how do doctors treat a hematoma?
The most common medical removal method for hematomas is drainage. It is actually a simple procedure. Your doctor will make a small incision and insert a syringe to suck the fill-in fluid. It will only take a couple of minutes and you will be released immediately after the operation.
Small hematomas heal within 7-10 days. Larger ones can take up to 4 or more weeks before complete recovery. This will however depend on the care measures you are putting in place.
When to see a doctor
Hematomas are dangerous in the following situations;
- Form immediately after injury
- Form inside internal organs especially the brain
- Keep recurring with no injuries involved
- Take too long to recover
See your doctor if a hematomas behaves in any of the above ways. Since you may not realize it when a blood clot forms inside the cranium, it will be helpful if you can see your doctor after a serious injury on your skull. Symptoms of blood clot on brain include headaches, confusion and memory loss.
Ruptured hematomas also do require medical attention. A hematoma can rupture due to additional damage or excess fluid. Open wounds are perfect entry points for bacterial which can lead to bone infections among other complications.