Paintball Welts & Bruises: How to Treat, Prevent & Deal With Them

Paintball is an extreme, physical sport. Players are continually jumping over or under obstacles, diving into the ground, or running into objects. However, though the physicality of the game can cause some pain, most of the welts and bruises received during paintball games are from actually being shot with the paintball.

While the actual shot may not hurt very much or very long, the effect of the shot is always evident. It’s not a rare occasion for players to take off their protective clothing to find welts and bruises all over their body. So, then, the question arises, can you prevent these? Furthermore, how do you treat these welts and bruises when they do show up?

Thankfully, there are several ways you can protect yourself from these abrasions. By taking some precautions, you can limit the number of welts and bruises that appear on your body.

DISCLAIMER:  This article does not provide medical advice.  You should consult your doctor if you are seeking medical advice on how to treat your injuries.

How to prevent Bruises and Welts

Before we look at how to treat bruises and welts caused by the impact of paintball on your body, let us look at different ways you can prevent them.

Wear thick clothing

There are two main factors attribute to bruising and welts during paintball play. One that cannot be controlled by the person getting shot is the distance from which the opponent shoots you. However, what you can control is how much of your skin is exposed.

Experience suggests that exposed skin is more likely to bruise and welt after an impact from a paintball. Therefore, we recommend that you cover as much of your skin as possible. There best is, however, a fine line between too much clothing and not enough.

The first point to remember in your clothing choices is that the thicker the clothes equal less pain and impact from the shot. Most players accomplish this by wearing layers. Wearing layers allow you to use moisture wicking material on the bottom layer to help keep you cool and a thicker outer layer to reduce the effect of the shot.

While wearing thicker clothes does not replace the required protective gear, it can help diminish your chances of getting unsightly bruises and welts. Remember, most people play paintball during the summer. This fact equals higher temperatures and more chance of getting excessively hot. Keep this in mind when choosing your paintballing attire. Though darker clothing will keep you hidden better, wearing lighter clothing will keep you cooler.

Protective Clothing

The wearing of protective gear is not only recommended, but most paintball arenas require that players wear specific equipment at all times. There is a vast array of protective gear available. This list includes:

  • Facemask/helmet
  • Gloves
  • Vest
  • Padded shirts and pants
  • Boots

The purpose of this protective clothing is simply to lower your chances of getting injured when shot. The most common places on the body to get hit are the chest, arms, face, and hands. It just so happens that these are the portions of the body where a hit hurts the most and will leave bruises and welts.

If you can’t afford to buy enough protective gear for your entire body, at the very least, you want to make sure you have a helmet/facemask that is rated to take a direct hit without shattering. Additionally, a decent pair of gloves will protect your hands which are exposed nearly 100% of the time. Hopefully, you thoroughly cover the rest of your body with clothes you already own.

Treatment of welts and bruises

Regardless of how much thought and work you put into preventing welts and bruises from occurring, it is inevitable that you will get hit by a paintball at some point in your paintballing career. In fact, after a strenuous day out on the field, chances are you will have been hit multiple times, regardless of how good you play. That’s why it’s important to know what to expect and how to treat the side effects of getting hit with a paintball.

What are bruises and welts?

Before you can know how to treat bruises and welts, it’s important to know what they are. Each is completely different than the other. Thus their treatments options are different.

Bruises

Bruises occur when tiny blood vessels in the soft tissues of your body burst. The bruising you see is the blood from these small, almost microscopic, vessels. They can range in colors, from red, blue, purple, or black, depending on the severity of the bruising. Furthermore, bruises can become raised off the skin. The blood pooling naturally causes this coloring under the skin.

Bruises tend to go through several phases before being completely healed. Often, depending on the severity and treatment levels, the bruise may take several weeks to go away completely. Most bruises resulting from paintball shots tend to go away sooner due to them not being overly severe.

Welts

Simply put, welts are reddened bumps that appear on the skin after being hit by a hard object. Different from bruising, a welt is just the skin swelling in the area of the hit. Often, these types of injuries go away after a couple of days. They can, however, cause severe itching during the healing process.

How to treat

Because bruises and welts are so different in their nature, the way in which you treat them is different as well. Remember, the sooner you begin treatment, the quicker and better the injury will heal.

How to treat bruises

There are several different courses of action that you can take to treat bruises. Which route you take, however, is entirely dependent on when the bruise happens and treatment begins. Remember always to make sure the area around the bruise is clean with soap and water before commencing treatment.

Cold Compress

As soon as you notice a bruise on your body, the best course of therapy is to apply a cold compress or ice pack to the bruised area. Doing this will help to decrease the amount of bleeding from those tiny vessels, in turn lowering the severity of the bruise. When placing an ice pack on your skin, you want to be sure to have a small buffer between your skin and the ice pack. This buffer is usually achieved by using a small towel and placing it on the affected area of your body before putting the ice pack on the area.

Failure to use a buffer can result in damaging the skin and can, in severe cases, cause frostbite. When applying the cold compress with an ice pack, leave it on the area for 15 minutes and then wait an hour before using it again. Waiting the allotted time ensures you aren’t leaving the ice pack on too long which will have the same results of not using a buffer.

Warm Compress/Heat

Using a warm compress or heat on a bruise is done in two circumstances; either the bruise went all day without being noticed, or you’ve been applying cold packs during the day and now transition to warm compresses or heat. Using heat can be as simple as placing a washcloth in warm water and then applying it to the affected area. Also, you can use a heating pad turned to the lowest, or middle, heat setting.

While cold helps to alleviate as much bleeding as possible, heat does the exact opposite. Heat will improve the color of the bruise and the skin around it by improving the circulation. Applying heat has the same precautions as cold; don’t leave it on the area too long.

If using a heating pad, it may be wise to use a towel again to act as a buffer between the heat and the skin. (This isn’t necessary if using warm water.) Leaving heat on the area too long can cause additional damage, especially to the skin around the bruise. Only leave the heat on for 15 minutes and then leave off for an hour.

Vitamin K Lotion

Vitamin K is an excellent natural resource that promotes blood clotting. If you have a bruise that seems to be getting progressively worse and applying cold packs to the area doesn’t appear to help, rubbing some vitamin k lotion may do the trick. It helps the blood to clot and will stop the bruise from spreading.

Additionally, if you notice you bruise easily after being hit by a paintball, taking a supplement that is rich in vitamin k may help reduce your chances of bruising. Some players even keep a tube of lotion in their packs and rub onto hit areas whether they see bruising or not to ensure bruising doesn’t occur.

Epsom Salt Bath

After an intense day of paintballing, you may have lost count of how many times your opponent connected. Furthermore, you were most likely hit in the same spot repeatedly. Not only does this almost ensure you will having bruising, but it also means that those bruises will be sore from repeated hits.

Epsom salt, which you can buy from any drug store of big-box retailers, helps to relax muscles and heals your skin by replacing minerals lost in sweating and bruising. The effects of Epsom salt on the bruises may not be immediate, but the soothing of your pain will be. We also recommend if you are an intense player and tend to be sure after rounds of play.

Treating Welts

Though welts are a different type of injury than bruising, treatment for them are much the same. Just remember, welts are swollen portions of skin tissue so they may be a tad more painful than bruises. In fact, many of the treatments are specifically for the pain as the swelling tends to go away on its own. As the first step, always ensure the area you are treating is clean from any dirt or blood.

Swapping hot and cold compresses

Just like with bruising, cold compresses work by limiting blood circulation in the application area. The reason this helps with welts is because decreased blood flow not only helps the swelling to go down but decreases the pain as well.

However, different from bruising, treating welts allows you to alternate cold and hot being applied to the affected area. The heat, though increasing blood flow, also helps to reduce swelling and relaxes the muscles around the hit.

When applying hot or cold packs, never keep one on for more than 15 minutes. Also, alternating them a couple of times and then allow the area to rest for an hour before starting the treatment again. If the pain doesn’t diminish after a couple of rounds of this treatment, there may be a hidden injury and you may want to see a healthcare professional.

Witch Hazel

Most people have never heard of witch hazel before. It is a natural substance that is great for swollen and painful portions of your body. In fact, it is a common ingredient in most topical pain creams.

The best way to use witch hazel is by mixing it with an aloe Vera gel and applying it to the affected area. The aloe gel helps with the smell, as well as helps he skin from being irritated by the witch hazel. It is an excellent choice for quick pain relief while on the go or for something you just want to apply and not have to worry about repeating a process, such as with hot and cold compresses.

Elevation

If the welt is on your arms or legs, its best to raise them up to reduce the swelling. This works by limiting the blood flow to the affected area. If the welt is extreme in nature, this may be the best way to ensure it is healed completely.

If you have a welt that continues to remain painful after the above treatments, or if the pain persists for several days, it may be a good idea to see a doctor. Additionally, if the swelling isn’t gone after two weeks, see a doctor to ensure nothing else is going on that you are unable to see.

Avoid getting hit

Though it sounds like a silly notion, the best way to avoid painful bruises and welts is to avoid getting hit, especially if the spot you tend to get hit is hit multiple times. If you do notice a particular area of your body taking the majority of the hits, it may be a good idea to study your strategy and shooting stance.

Always use the obstacles on the course to your advantage. Though getting shot is a part of the game, it’s better if you can control where you get hit by controlling which areas of your body is exposed to the enemy.

Paintball is perhaps one of the most exciting shooting sports around. You combine a live of shooting with military-style combat that is safe and fun. However, getting shot is part of the price we pay for having fun in paintball. If you follow these steps, though you will still get shot, you can limit the impact it has on you and your game. Remember the old saying, it is better to give than receive? The same is especially true in paintball; it’s always better to shoot someone than to get shot. As long as everyone follows the rules, you’re experience will be filled with more fun and excitement than pain and injury.

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