What a Bruise May Reveal About Your Health

We all experience a bruise at one time or another. They are caused when an injury makes small blood vessels under your skin bleed. The blood has nowhere else to go so it pools up and clots, changing the color of the skin above it.

There are two main types of bruises.

An Ecchymosis is often a flat purple bruise. They happen when blood leaks into the top layers of your skin. A black eye is a good example of this type of bruise.

The other common type of bruise is a hematoma. This type of bruising happens when clotted blood forms a lump under your skin. The area is usually swollen, raised, or painful. A “goose egg” on your head is one example.

Why do my bruises change color?

The blood behind your bruise starts to change right away. The hemoglobin in your blood breaks down into other compounds causing the change in the appearance of your bruise.

  • At first your bruise is usually red right after the injury.
  • Within two or three days it should turn black and blue.
  • Within 7-10 days it will turn yellowish.
  • In about 10-14 days it should turn light brown.
  • It should be completely gone in about two weeks.

How can I treat them?

Covering the bruise with ice is the best treatment. The ice will slow blood flow to the area, resulting in less blood flowing into the damaged tissue. Place ice on the bruise for 15-20 minutes and remove for 30 minutes. You can then repeat the process.

When should you see a Doctor

You may need additional care from a doctor if any of the following occur:

  • You think you may have experienced a sprain or a broken bone.
  • The bruise continues to get bigger after the first day
  • It lasts for more than 2 weeks.
  • It comes and goes with no apparent reason
  • It occurred from a blow to the head and you may have experienced a concussion.
  • Any eye injury causing difficulty with sight.

Why Do I Bruise Easily?

We all bruise differently. Factors such as age, skin type, muscle mass, age and genes all play a role in how we bruise. Women tend to bruise more easily than men — especially from slight injuries on their upper arms, thighs, and buttocks. Easy bruising sometimes runs in families, too.

Diet can also play a factor. Folic acid (folate) and vitamins C, K, and B12 help your blood clot. If you don’t get enough of these, you may bruise more easily. Try eating more citrus fruit if you’re low in vitamin C. Beef and fortified breakfast cereals are rich in B12. Green leafy veggies like spinach are good sources of vitamin K and folate.

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