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8 Natural Remedies
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Last updated March 25, 2017 (originally published February 17, 2013)

By Louise Carr, Associate Editor and Featured Columnist

Bruising may be the first thing you consider when you see
purple marks on your arms but an injury is not the only
possible cause of purple patches. Did you consider skin aging,
blood spots or lupus as a cause? Whatever the reason these
marks appear on your skin they can be unsightly and
embarrassing. How do you get rid of purple marks on your
arms? Which natural remedies help remove the color and
return your skin to its regular tone?

Why Do I Have Purple Marks on My Arms?

The Number One reason for seeing purple, black or blue marks
on your arms is bruising. A bruise develops when the blood
vessels beneath the skin break, usually after a blow or bump.

Bruises turn many colors as they heal and you’ll often see
purple make an appearance. Some people bruise very easily
and may not recall the injury that caused the purple marks. You
bruise more often when you get older as the skin becomes
thinner and less flexible, with less fat beneath it to cushion you
from blows. Women tend to bruise more easily than men.

But purple marks are not always caused by injury. You may be
experiencing blood spots beneath the skin as the blood vessels
leak or join together. These blood spots are called "purpura" or


Petechiae often occur on the eyelids and the neck, according to
a 1997 study from Kanazawa University Faculty of Medicine in

Purpura look similar to bruises while petechiae are a bit
different – tiny purple or red spots within the skin. Purpura
may be caused by blood clotting disorders, certain medications,
fragile blood vessels, inflammation, childbirth or scurvy.

Your purple marks may also be age spots, also called "liver
spots". These flat purplish, gray or black spots usually appear
on the places most exposed to the sun such as the arms and
face. Age spots are harmless but can look ugly and may make
you think of cancer. They can be removed but the best
response is prevention – protect yourself from the sun
whenever you can.

Are the Purple Marks a Sign of Something Serious?

According to the National Institute of Arthritis and
Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, in some cases purple marks
on the arms can be caused by lupus.

Lupus happens when your immune system begins to attack
healthy tissue and cells rather than alien substances in the
body, causing damage to organs.  Symptoms include purple or
red rashes, pain and swelling in the joints and muscles, fever,
chest pain, swollen glands, hair loss, and fatigue. Lupus is
disabling, with up to 46% of its working-age sufferers
reported as not able to work, according to the
Centers for
Disease Control.

Purple marks can also be a sign of skin cancer. While skin
cancer can show up on the arms, most forms of skin cancer do
not look purple. One exception is "Kaposi's sarcoma". This rare
cancer shows itself as purple or red patches and develops in
your blood vessels. The purple patches may or may not be
painful. Kaposi's sarcoma is most often found in people with
weak immune systems such as those with AIDS or people
taking immune-suppressant drugs. Karposi's is so rare that it
only occurs in about 6 out of every one million people,
according to the American Cancer Society.

Most cases of purple marks on the arms are less serious,
however, and will go away within a few weeks. You can help
the process along, depending on the cause of the purple marks,
with a range of scientifically-tested natural remedies.

Top 8 Remedies for Purple Marks on Your Arms

1. Treat Purple Marks Caused by Bruising with Horse Chestnut

A horse chestnut extract called "escin", sometimes also called
"aescin", is believed to help lessen swelling and discoloration
caused by bruising.

According to a 1993 study by Bastyr College in Seattle,
Washington, 70% of  participants found that 10g of two-
percent escin gel applied to their bruises helped reduce
tenderness and, over time, discoloration.

Treat Lupus to Remove Purple Marks

Purple or red marks, or a rash, can be one of the signs of
lupus. According to some experts, flaxseed may help treat or
prevent lupus. Flaxseed contains alpha-linolenic acid, a
substance of potential use in managing the consequences of

A 1993 study from the University of Western Ontario, London,
Canada found a diet rich in alpha-linolenic acid from flaxseed
helped treat lupus symptoms.

Walnuts are the richest source on alpha-linolenic acid, with a
one ounce serving providing 2.5 grams of alpha-linolenic acid.
(Read more about
foods that help with lupus symptoms.)

Manage Lupus with Fish Oil?

You may be able to remove the purple marks on your arms
caused by lupus with the help of fish oil, although not all
experts agree over the effectiveness of this remedy. The theory
is that the omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil have anti-inflammatory
effects that help lessen the severity of lupus symptoms. A 1991
study from the Bloomsbury Rheumatology Unit, University
College, London found this to be the case.

Treat Purple Age Spots on the Arms with the Help of Soy

An extract of soy could help treat the effects of the sun on
aging skin, including the purple or brown marks that come with
age, according to a 2007 study from Johnson & Johnson
Consumer Companies, Inc of Skillman, NJ. Women who used a
soybean extract cream over 12 weeks reported improvement in
the pigmentation of the skin as well as in skin texture,
appearance and tone.

Take Vitamin C to Prevent Purpura and Easy Bruising

A deficiency in vitamin C, also known as scurvy, can cause easy
bruising because vitamin C is essential for healthy collagen.
While scurvy is very rare, you may have a slight vitamin C
deficiency that causes purple marks to easily show up on your
arms. A 1981 study by Schorah CJ, Tormey WP, Brooks GH, et
al published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
showed vitamin C supplements for elderly people with a slight
deficiency reduced their tendency to bruise.

Tone Down a Purple Mark or Bruise with Arnica?

While arnica is widely believed to be effective at treating purple
bruises, there is surprisingly little evidence that this
homeopathic remedy actually works.

Many people swear by an arnica cream to lessen discoloration
and pain caused by bruises but scientific evidence is lacking .
For example, a 1976 report by Dr. A. Campbell called “Two
pilot controlled trials of Arnica Montana” found arnica brought
a little benefit to the healing process.


Not all scientists share this enthusiasm for arnica's ability to
reduce bruising. A 2003 study led by Dr. C. Stevinson of the
University of Exeter found that arnica was no more effective
than placebo in reducing bruising and swelling caused by hand

Use Alpha-hydroxy Acids to Remove Purple Marks

Alpha-hydroxy acids like glycolic acid and lactic acid come from
dairy and fruit products and are used in skincare formulas to
remove damaged layers of skin that show marks and
discoloration. Could they work for purple patches on the arms?
A 1996 study from Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston
looked at 74 women with marks on the skin from sun damage
and found 8% glycolic acid or 8% L-lactic acid applied to the
arm and face improved the appearance of marks on the skin
better than placebo.

Prevent Purple Marks Caused by Sun Damage

Purple marks on the arms can be a sign of aged skin caused by
over-exposure to the sun. Prevent these marks from occurring
by avoiding the sun between 10am and 4pm, and using a
broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15. Cover
your arms to protect them from the sun.


Maintain Healthy Vitamin K Levels to Prevent Bruising

Vitamin K is responsible for maintaining the structure of your
capillaries. Without Vitamin K, capillaries "leak" and cause
bruising. In fact, doctors administer Vitamin K to people who
start to belled too much after taking blood thinning
medications.  In general, without adequate levels of Vitamin K,
you would bleed internally.

There are two kinds of Vitamin K, K1 and K2. You get Vitamin K
(actually Vitamin K1) from
dark green vegetables.  As for
Vitamin K2, one of the best sources of Vitamin K is a Japanese
fermented soybean product called "natto", which is not that
widely available in the US and UK. Certain hard cheeses such as
gouda (French) also are rich in Vitamin K.


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