Encyclopedia / H / Hematoma



Hematoma is a localized collection of blood, usually clotted, in a tissue or organ.


Hematomas can occur almost anywhere on the body. In minor injuries, the blood is absorbed unless infection develops. Contusions (bruises) and black eyes are familiar forms of hematoma.

Less serious types include subungual hematoma (under a fingernail or toenail); hematoma auris (in the tissues of the outer ear, better known as cauliflower ear); and perianal hematoma (under the skin around the anus).

Hematomas are almost always present with a fracture. They are especially serious when they occur inside the skull, where they may place local pressure on the brain, notably epidural and subdural hematomas.


Hematomas that occur intracranially require immediate specialized medical attention.

For contusions (bruises), treatment consists of initially applying ice or cold packs a few times a day, to produce vasoconstriction (a reduction in arterial blood flow) which helps to decrease hemorrhage (bleeding) and edema (swelling).

In general, the quicker you apply ice after the injury, the less bleeding will result.

If possible, elevate the bruised limb. Blood will leave the area of the wound and there may be less swelling. Resting the limb will also help to prevent further injury.

If the area is still painful after about 48 hours, apply gentle heat with warm towels, a hot water bottle, or a heating pad. The heat is applied for 20 minutes at a time to promote absorption and repair. Since heat causes swelling and increases tissue fluid, which may impair function, hot compresses may be followed by cold applications to minimize the secondary effects of heat.

Pressure in the form of an elastic adhesive bandage may be helpful to reduce hemorrhage and swelling. If infection should develop in the wound, the signs and symptoms might be increasingly severe pain, a fever of 101 degrees or more, swelling with surrounding redness, and pus. If any of these signs appear, your physician should be notified to make sure there are no additional problems.


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