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 the 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. But severe bruising,
swelling, and pain that begin within 30 minutes of an injury may mean a more
serious problem, such as a severe
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,
- Women bruise more easily than men, especially from
minor injuries on the thighs, buttocks, and upper arms.
- A tendency
to bruise easily sometimes runs in families.
Occasionally after an injury, blood collects and pools under
the skin (hematoma), giving the skin a spongy, rubbery, lumpy feel. A regular
bruise is more spread out and may not feel like a firm lump. A hematoma usually
is not a cause for concern. It is not the same thing as a
blood clot in a vein, and it does not cause blood
Bruises that do not appear to be caused by an accidental
injury may be caused by
abuse. It is important to consider this possibility,
especially if the bruises cannot be explained or if the explanations change or
do not match the injury. Report this type of bruising and seek help to prevent
Blood spots under the skin may be either
petechiae. Purpura might look like bruises, but they
are not caused by an injury as most regular bruises are. Petechiae don't look
like bruises. They are tiny, flat, red or purple spots in the skin, but they
are different than the tiny, flat, red spots or birthmarks (hemangiomas) that
are present all the time.