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.
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 can't 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.
Sudden unexplained bruising or blood spots under the skin
or a sudden increase in the frequency of bruising may be caused by:
Medical treatment for abnormal bruising or blood spots focuses
on preventing or stopping bleeding, changing or adjusting a medicine that may
be causing the bruising, or treating the medical problem that is causing the
If the skin is injured over a bruise, be sure to watch
for signs of a
Check your symptoms to decide if
and when you should see a doctor.
Shock is a life-threatening condition that may occur quickly
after a sudden illness or injury.
Symptoms of shock in a child may include:
You have answered all the questions. Based on your answers, you may be
able to take care of this problem at home.
Shock is a life-threatening condition that may quickly occur
after a sudden illness or injury.
Symptoms of shock (most of which will be present) include:
Symptoms of serious illness may
Symptoms of infection may
Many prescription and nonprescription medicines may reduce
your blood's ability to clot and cause bruising or bleeding under the skin. A
few examples are:
Symptoms of serious illness in a baby
may include the following:
Abnormal bleeding means any heavy or
frequent bleeding or any bleeding that is not normal for you. Examples of
abnormal bleeding include:
When you have abnormal bleeding in one area of your body, it's
important to think about whether you have been bleeding anywhere else. This can
be a symptom of a more serious health problem.
Certain health conditions and medicines weaken the immune system's ability to fight off infection and
illness. Some examples in adults are:
Based on your answers, you may need care soon. The
problem probably will not get better without medical care.
Many things can affect how your body responds to a symptom and what kind
of care you may need. These include:
Based on your answers, you may need care right away. The problem is likely to get worse without medical care.
Based on your answers, you need
or other emergency services now.
Based on your answers, the problem may not improve without medical
If your bruise does not require an
evaluation by a doctor, you may be able to use home treatment to
help relieve pain, swelling, and stiffness.
Call your doctor if any of the following occur during home
You can't always prevent
bruises, but most of the time bruises are not a cause
Bruises are often the first sign of
abuse. You may be able to prevent further abuse by
reporting it and seeking help.
To prepare for your appointment, see the topic Making the Most of Your Appointment.
You can help your
doctor diagnose and treat your condition by being prepared to
answer the following questions:
December 4, 2012
William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
& H. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.
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