London: Bruises develop when small blood vessels under the skin tear or rupture, most often from a bump or fall. Blood leaks into tissues under the skin and causes a black-and-blue color. As bruises (contusions) heal, usually within 2 to 4 weeks, they often turn colors, including purplish black, reddish blue, or yellowish-green. Sometimes the area of the bruise spreads down the body in the direction of gravity.
A bruise on a leg usually will take longer to heal than a bruise on the face or arms. Most bruises are not a cause for concern and will go away on their own. Home treatment may speed healing and relieve the swelling and soreness that often accompany bruises that are caused by injury.
Bruises and Blue Patches on Skin
If you bruise easily, you may not even remember what caused a bruise. Bruising easily does not mean you have a serious health problem, especially if bruising is minimal or only shows up once in a while. Older adults often bruise easily from minor injuries, especially injuries to the forearms, hands, legs, and feet. As a person ages, the skin becomes less flexible and thinner because there is less fat under the skin.
The cushioning effect of the skin decreases as the fat under the skin decreases. These changes, along with skin damage from exposure to the sun, cause blood vessels to break easily. When blood vessels break, bruising occurs.
Women bruise more easily than men, especially from minor injuries on the thighs, buttocks, and upper arms.
You’re more likely to bruise if you suffer from a vitamin C deficiency, underlying genetic disorders, alcohol abuse, or side effects of certain medications, says Dr. Javette Orgain, vice-speaker of the American Academy of Family Physicians. But anyone who knocks up against an unforgiving force — be it a car door or coffee table — is going to sport that telltale bruise.
Sudden unexplained bruising or blood spots under the skin or a sudden increase in the frequency of bruising may be caused by:
- A medicine, such as aspirin or blood thinners (anticoagulants).
- Infection that causes the buildup of toxins in the blood or tissues (sepsis).
- A bleeding or clotting disorder, such as hemophilia, von Willebrand’s disease, thrombocytopenia, or another less common bleeding or clotting disorder.
Treatment: The body needs time to heal bruises, which are caused by trauma to small blood vessels beneath the skin. But there are ways to help speed up the process, doctors say.
Ice it. On the day you get a bruise, apply an ice pack to reduce swelling as well as constrict broken blood vessels. Those vessels then may leak less blood.
Avoid heat. In the first two or three days after bruising yourself, a very hot bath or shower could cause more bleeding and swelling. It’s also smart to lay off the alcohol.
Elevate if possible. If you bruise your leg, reduce some pressure to the injured area by propping it up.
Be careful. Try to keep bruised areas from resting against any hard surface _ or, of course, getting banged again.