Using toothpaste to get rid of bruises is a home remedy hack used to speed up recovery but for more reasons than one, it isn't very effective.
I will explain what this alleged remedy is, how to use it, but also why it doesn't work as well as you may have hoped. Although there is a more effective remedy that actually works which you probably never heard of.
Table of Contents:
How to get rid of bruises with toothpaste
The two most popular ways of using toothpaste on bruises involve putting it on directly or by mixing it with a lotion. You do this overnight before bed and then bandage it so that it doesn't rub off on your bed sheets. Make sure you rinse off in the morning and moisturize afterwards.
Clean the bruise with soap and water.
Apply a minty toothpaste to affected area.
Bandage it and go to sleep.
Rinse off in the morning.
Repeat for the next 2-3 days.
Mixed with lotion method:
Clean area with soap and water.
Mix 2 parts toothpaste with 1 part lotion.
Apply mixture to the bruise.
Bandage the area overnight.
Rinse off in the morning.
Apply moisturizer, repeat for 2-3 nights.
This home remedy or hack for removing bruises only requires three simple ingredients: toothpaste, bandages, and moisturizer.
How long to leave toothpaste on a bruise
Allegedly, if you leave toothpaste on a bruise overnight you can get rid of it in due time. The recommendation is to let the dentifrice work on the discolored skin for many hours, preferably the entire time that you're asleep.
Supposedly, the color of the bruise should get lighter after each night of applying toothpaste to it. Yes, it won't get rid of it after a single day and it does require multiple nights of treatment.
What to expect:
A smaller and less severe bruise will require less days of toothpaste treatment.
A larger and more severe bruise will require more days of using toothpaste.
Allegedly, you should try to leave the toothpaste on for at least 6-8 hours per day
Where the idea originated from
The idea of using toothpaste for bruises is most likely an extrapolation from toothpaste being whitening and also how hydrogen peroxide is commonly used to remove blood stains. You do know that the primary teeth whitening ingredient is peroxide right?
After all, a bruise is a collection of blood pooling underneath the skin which becomes discolored as your body breaks it down. The assumption is, if you can whiten the skin discoloration from the bruise, it will make it go away faster.
Hydrogen peroxide for blood stains
Hydrogen peroxide is a commonly used household remedy for removing blood stains from clothing or household items can be a money saver. Imagine having to throw away all of your possessions which have been stained by blood.
That is incredibly wasteful but thankfully you can rescue these items by using hydrogen peroxide. This is a proven blood staining removal method and if you need any further proof, just ask your mother, wife, husband, or whomever has had to deal with blood stains.
Aside from proof via everyday uses of peroxide to remove stains from blood, there is plenty of scientific evidence that supports it. It's not just a household remedy because there are medical products known as blood bleaches whose purpose is to remove blood stains and bruising.
There have been a series of blood bleaching products being patented since 2015.
Blood bleaching products:
RU Patent 2539380 (2015) - A drug called "Bleach Bruising" which involves injecting hydrogen peroxide with sodium bicarbonate to reduce bruise discoloration.
RU Patent 2573382 (2016) - Agent for intradermal bruise whitening.
RU Patent 2582215 (2016) - Method of skin discoloration in the area of bruising.
RU Patent 2586278 (2016) - Method for skin discoloration in bruising area.
RU Patent 2631593 (2017) - Method for emergency bleaching and blood crust removal from skin in place of squeezed out acne.
RU Patent 2639485 (2017) - Method for whitening of bruise under eye.
As you can see, there has been a lot of research and innovation involving elimination of bruises with blood bleaching products.
Who is to say that teeth whitening toothpaste won't work?
Does toothpaste work on bruises?
Unfortunately, toothpaste doesn't work for bruises meaning it won't get rid of the discoloration as you may have hoped.
Reasons that toothpaste is ineffective for bruise removal:
Topical application is less effective than an intradermal injection.
Most whitening toothpastes don't contain hydrogen peroxide.
Bleaching a bruise does not address the bruise discoloration mechanism.
We will explain what all of this means in greater detail.
Topical application isn't as effective
The studies with blood bleaching products to reduce the discoloration of a bruise with peroxide involve injecting it intradermally. In other words, a needle is used to penetrate through the surface of the skin to deposit the solution directly into the discolored blood.
However, when you are using toothpaste for a bruise, you're only able to apply it topically. The paste is rubbed on the surface of the skin but unfortunately that makes it less effective.
Why topical application is less effective:
Toothpaste is not absorbed as well when rubbed on the skin.
An injection delivers the product directly to the site of the bruise.
As a reminder, the bruising is not on the surface of your skin, it is actually discolored blood that is pooling underneath your skin. Therefore, for maximum effectiveness, the product should be delivered beneath your skin.
For the reason above, toothpaste is not very effective in eliminating bruises.
Most whitening toothpastes don't have peroxide
All blood bleaching products utilize hydrogen peroxide as the primary agent in making the bruise whiter. However, very few whitening toothpastes even contain peroxide despite the "whitening" label.
The image above shows two whitening toothpastes from Colgate but only one of them actually contains peroxide. Despite the other toothpaste not having peroxide, it is still labeled as a whitening paste.
This labeling is not ubiquitous to just Colgate because every toothpaste brand does it. You would be hard pressed to actually find a non-whitening toothpaste because nearly all of them have that label. Although whether or not they have peroxide in them is a different story.
Bruise discoloration mechanism
A bruise forms when blood seeps out from damaged blood vessels. This pool of blood then begins to degrade and consequently changes colors as it breaks down from one form to the next.
Blood is originally bonded to oxygen, called oxyhemoglobin (vivid red color).
Spilled blood releases oxygen to surrounding tissues and becomes carbohemoglobin (dark cherry red color).
Blood then breaks down into biliverdin (green color).
The biliverdin is catalyzed by biliverdin reductase and becomes bilirubin (yellow color).
That is essentially why when you initially get a bruise, you see a bright red color which turns into a darker red. After a while it transforms into a green color but as it gets close to healing, it becomes yellow. That is the entire color progression of a bruise.
The key point is that bleaching the discoloration does not necessarily stop the breakdown of the spilled out blood. The heme will continue to degrade and move through each stage thus causing a color change to occur. This is one of the reasons as to why toothpaste doesn't work for bruises.
Other alleged toothpaste uses
Other alleged uses for toothpaste include hickeys and black eyes, which are similar to bruises. They're both skin discolorations so the extrapolation isn't too far off. Although unfortunately, just like how toothpaste is ineffective for bruises, they are also ineffective for these two conditions.
Toothpaste for hickeys
Another popular but relevant alleged use for toothpastes is in getting rid of hickeys, which is essentially a form of a mild bruise. The hickey forms due to intense kissing pressure that pops the surrounding blood vessels, thus causing blood to spill out.
The spilled out blood will begin to degrade and change colors just like a bruise. The only difference between a hickey and a typical bruise is that this is caused by amorous activities.
Toothpaste for black eyes
A rather interesting use for toothpaste would be for black eyes. If you sustained an injury from an altercation, you may get a shiner. This is actually a much more severe form of a bruise since it tends to be much larger in size.
Unfortunately the toothpaste will not work in reducing the discoloration of a black eye nor will it expedite the healing.
Better alternative for bruises
Instead of using toothpaste on a bruise, a better alternative would be to use a warm compress on a bruise. An extremely effective DIY warm compress that you can use at home would be a hard boiled egg.
According to Dr. Sonia Batra (dermatologist), using a hard boiled egg 48 hours after your bruise injury can help reduce the discoloration and help it heal faster.
How hard boiled eggs help with bruises:
The heat from the hard boiled egg will help get blood flow into the bruised area and help the discolored blood disburse.
The massaging motion from rolling the egg will also help get rid of the stale discolored blood.
It isn't so much that the egg is magical but rather that you're using it as a warm compress. Any other type of warm compress will work as well. It's just that an egg is a common ingredient in everyone's fridge so everyone has instant access to this.
Note: Please be aware that according to Dr Batra, during the first 48 hours of the bruise you should be using a cold compress. It is after 48 hours that you should switch to a warm compress. This is a general recommendation by most doctors.
The verdict on, "does toothpaste get rid of bruises" is no, it doesn't help bruises at all. It won't make it go away faster, make it lighter, nor will it get rid of the discoloration.
Hydrogen peroxide can remove blood stains.
But, very few toothpastes contain peroxide.
Topical peroxide application is ineffective for bruising.
Intradermal injections are more effective.
Warm compress is simpler, safer, and more effective than toothpaste.
Therefore if you have a bruise from an injury, after dental work, or from some accident, using toothpaste on a bruise may be a waste of time. Our recommendation is to skip this home remedy hack and use a more proven one such as a warm compress instead.