Advice for patients

Creams to reduce bruising

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. Nelsons Arnicare Arnica cream and Hirudoid cream can be used to help with bruising.

Creams to reduce bruising: Nelsons Arnicare Arnica

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 this, Arnicare Arnica cream i a popular choice of many people looking for cream to reduce bruising.

Arnicare Arnica cream is available in most supermarket and online. See Amazon Arnicare deals.

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.

Hirudoid cream is not commonly prescribed and therefore many pharmacies do not stock it, however, it can be easily ordered in the pharmacy from pharmaceutical wholesalers.

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 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 a better choice in the reduction of bruises. Well studied mechanism of action of the active ingredient (as compared to Nelsons Arnicare Arnica cream) supports the efficacy of this product.

Read product information leaflet to find out more about both Hirudoid cream (directions of use, possible side effects).


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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