Creams to reduce bruising

Creams to reduce bruising: what is the best cream?

Bruises are mostly formed as a result of the injury, causing local skin discoloration. Generally, bruises do not require medical treatment and go on their own within a couple of weeks. A couple of creams to reduce bruising can be purchased over the counter and/or from the pharmacy, which possibly helps with bruising. In this post, I will review creams which contain Arnica, a popular herbal choice for bruises, and a Hirudoid cream, a pharmacy medication licensed for superficial bruising.

Creams to reduce bruising: Nelsons Arnicare Arnica cream

Nelsons Arnicare Arnica cream for bruising

Nelsons Arnicare Arnica cream is a herbal cream suitable for both children and adults. Nelsons Arnicare contains Arnica montana tincture as an active ingredient. This alpine plant is sourced from the Scottish Highlands and has been in use as an herbal and homeopathic remedy since the 16h century to reduce bruising and swelling due to injury.

Does Nelsons Arnicare Arnica cream reduce bruising?

There is no scientific evidence to confirm the efficacy of Arnica containing products (Brito et al, 2014). Nelsons Arnicare Arnica cream is licensed as a traditional herbal medicinal product, used for the symptomatic relief of bruises, based on traditional use only (MHRA, ND). Despite of lack of evidence for effectiveness, Arnicare Arnica cream is a popular choice of many people looking for a cream to reduce bruising. Arnicare Arnica cream is available in most supermarkets and online. See Amazon Arnicare deals.

How to use Nelsons Arnicare Arnica cream to reduce bruising?

Nelsons Arnicare Arnica should be applied to the affected area 4 times a day when required.

Boots Bruise Relief Arnica Cream

Boots cream to reduce bruising contains the same ingredients as Nelsons Arnicare, namely Arnica montana. Bruise Relief Arnica Cream is licensed as a traditional herbal remedy for the symptomatic relief of bruises. Boots Bruise Relief Arnica cream is made by Nelson & Co Limited, the same producer which makes Arnicare Arnica cream. In essence, both creams are the same.

Creams to reduce bruising - Boots Arnica cream

Who can use Boots Bruise Relief cream?

There are no specific age restrictions for Boots Bruise Relief Arnica cream. It can be used by adults, the elderly and children.

How to use Boots Bruise Relief cream?

The cream should be applied 4 times a day when required.

Creams to reduce bruising: Hirudoid cream

Hirudoid cream to reduce bruising

Hirudoid cream is a pharmacy only medication (P) containing 0.3% of heparinoid. P medicines can only be purchased from a pharmacy under the supervision of the pharmacist or from registered online pharmacies. Hirudoid is also available as Hirudoid gel, which has the same licensed use and restrictions as Hirudoid cream.

Where to buy Hirudoid cream or gel? 

Hirudoid cream is not commonly prescribed in the UK and therefore many pharmacies do not stock it, however, it can be easily ordered in the pharmacy from pharmaceutical wholesalers for the same or next day delivery. A 50g tube of Hirudoid cream or gel costs around £7.

Hirudoid cream: age restrictions and licensed use

Hirudoid cream is licensed for adults and children over 5 years of age for the relief of:

  • superficial bruising,
  • haematoma (internal bruising) and
  • treatment of superficial thrombophlebitis (inflammation of the veins)

How often is Hirudoid cream applied for the reduction of bruising?

Hirudoid cream is applied to the affected area up to 4 times a day. Hirudoid cream should not be applied to broken skin, large areas of the body or to mucous membranes areas such as nose, mouth, or eyelids.

How does Hirudoid work?

Hirudoid cream contains an active ingredient called heparinoid. This ingredient is similar to naturally occurring mucopolysaccharides (MPS) found in our bodies. MPS play a role in tissue regeneration, reduction of swelling, inflammation and bruising.

Through a cascade of different reactions, heparinoid, stops clotting of the blood, improving its flow in small veins at the site of injury. This decreases inflammation and swelling, speeds up the absorption of bruises and consequently supports the healing process.

Does Hirudoid cream reduce bruising?

One study compared the effectiveness of Hirudoid cream to an inactive cream in healthy volunteers. It took 2.1 days for 50% of the bruise to be absorbed when Hirudoid cream was used as compared to 4 days when inactive cream was used (Larsson et al, N.D.).

Despite the lack of popularity, Hirudoid cream is the best choice in a category of creams that reduce bruising. Well studied mechanism of action of the active ingredient (as compared to Nelsons Arnicare Arnica cream) supports the efficacy of this product.

Use of antiseptic Savlon as a cream to reduce bruising

Savlon cream is licensed for cleaning and prevention of infections due to skin damage, for example, a small wound or skin burn. Savlon should not be used as a cream to reduce bruising.


Does Arnica cream work for bruises?

Arnica creams are herbal products based on traditional use only. There is no evidence to support the effectiveness of Arnica cream in the treatment of bruises.

What cream is good for bruises?

Hirudoid cream is licensed for the treatment of superficial bruises. Hirudoid cream contains heparinoid as an active ingredient, which shown to stops clotting of the blood, improving its flow in small veins at the site of injury.


Larsson B., S. Fianu, A. Jonasson & B. Forsskahl. Percutaneous treatment with a mucopolysaccharide polysulphate of experimentally induced subcutaneous haematomas in man. Thromb Haemost.1985;53(3):343-5.

Thromb Haemost.1985;53(3):343-5. Financial sponsor of research unknown.

Noe Brito, Paul Knipschild & Jorge Doreste-Alonso (2014) Systematic Review on the Efficacy of Topical Arnica montana for the Treatment of Pain, Swelling and Bruises, Journal of Musculoskeletal Pain, 22:2, 216-223, DOI: 10.3109/10582452.2014.883012 Available at: Accessed on 07/11/2019

MHRS (N.D.). Nelsons Arnicare Arnica Cream. THR 01175/0397. Available at: Accessed on 07/11/2019

I am a community pharmacist working in UK. I blog about drugs, health and pharmacy.

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