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When to Seek Medical Care

  • Call the doctor if the bruise is accompanied by swelling and extreme pain, especially if you take a blood-thinning medication for a medical condition.
  • Call the doctor if bruising occurs easily or for no apparent reason.
  • Call the doctor if the bruise is painful and under a toenail or fingernail.
  • Call the doctor if a bruise does not improve within two weeks or fails to completely clear after three or four weeks.
  • Go to an emergency room if you think you have a broken bone along with the bruise.
  • Some bruises, such as those on the head or the eye, can cause a lot of anxiety.
    • If a bruise (sometimes called a "goose egg") occurs on the head, but the person did not black out and is able to remember the accident, it is unlikely that a serious head injury has resulted. On the other hand, if the person cannot remember what happened and you suspect the person may have a concussion, he or she should be taken to the nearest emergency room.
    • If a bruise occurs just above the eye, you can expect the bruise to travel to the area just under the eye, possibly causing a black eye, because of the effects of gravity. As long as you are able to move the affected eye in all directions and do not have changes in your vision, it is unlikely to be a serious injury that requires a visit to the hospital.

Exams and Tests

If an injury is obviously a bruise and the doctor does not suspect any broken bones, the doctor will probably not perform any tests.

  • If there is swelling or severe pain, the doctor may want to get an X-ray of the area to make sure there are no broken bones.
  • If bruising occurs frequently and for no apparent reason, the doctor may have your blood tested to look for a bleeding disorder.
  • Certain bruises, a pattern of bruises over time and in various stages of healing may alert a doctor to the possibility of physical abuse.
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