Menu

How to Manage Easy Bruising After Chemo

Medically Reviewed by Poonam Sachdev on October 29, 2021

Chemotherapy treatment for your breast cancer has side effects that can cause problems afterward. Side effects of chemo and radiation therapy include easily bruising and bleeding. Chemo reduces your blood platelet levels, which typically help your blood to clot. A low platelet count can consequently make you bruise easily and make you bleed more.

Bruising happens when your blood vessels are crushed under your skin. The blood vessels break open and bleed under your skin. Below, though, you’ll find ways to manage easily bruising from your chemo side effects. 

Avoid Certain Medicines

Over-the-counter medicines like aspirin and ibuprofen can increase your risk of bleeding. You should avoid medications like this, along with alcohol, if you have a low blood platelet count. You can also get a list of other medications and supplements to avoid from your breast cancer care team. 

Preventing Bruising

Low blood platelet count is also called thrombocytopenia. This causes easy bruising, but if you can avoid getting a bruise in the first place, you’re less likely to have problems with excessive bleeding and clotting issues under the skin. There are specific actions you should take to help prevent bruising from happening:

  • Avoid physical activity that could throw you off-balance, including contact sports. 
  • Protect your skin against scrapes and sharp objects. 
  • Use an electric razor instead of a blade.
  • Use a soft toothbrush to keep your gums from bleeding. 
  • Blow your nose gently. 
  • Take stool softeners if you need help with bowel movements. Don’t strain. 
  • Don’t put enemas or suppositories in your rectum. 
  • Wear shoes everywhere, including in your home, to avoid cuts or scrapes on your feet. 
  • Take care when handling sharp objects. 

Blood Transfusion for Low Platelet Counts

You may have low blood platelet counts if you’re bruising easily. Other things to notice are unusual bleeding in your urine, stool, vomit, or from your gums. If you notice you’re bleeding longer from minor cuts or getting bruises all over your body, you should contact your doctor immediately. 

If your doctor orders a platelet cell transfusion, you’ll get donor platelets in your blood. This can help temporarily prevent heavy bleeding. The benefits of transfusions typically last three days. A transfusion is the last step to helping you manage easy bruising. Your doctor may first reduce chemo dosage or another treatment that’s causing the low blood platelet count. 

If you notice multiple bruises or you’re bleeding longer than usual, you should seek medical attention immediately. Bleeding left untreated can cause internal damage. 

Talk to your doctor about the side effects of chemo and how to manage them after recovering from breast cancer.

Show Sources

SOURCES:

Breastcancer.org: “Bleeding and Bruising Problems.”

Breast Cancer Now: “Chemotherapy side effects.”

Cancer Treatment Centers of America: “Bruising and bleeding in cancer patients.”

Marshfield Clinic: “CHEMOTHERAPY: RISKS AND SIDE EFFECTS.”

NIH: “Bleeding and Bruising (Thrombocytopenia) and Cancer Treatment.”

© 2021 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved. View privacy policy and trust info