We’ve all been there. You’re changing clothes, and you notice a bruise on your arm or your leg – but have absolutely no idea how it got there.
So, you wrack your brain, trying to figure out where you might have been or what you might have done to get a bruise that you didn’t even know you had.
Sometimes it’s easy to figure out – you remember banging your leg on the corner of your desk or cracking your elbow on a cupboard door.
But what about those mystery ones that you just can’t figure out? And what if you think of something that you did that shouldn’t have caused a bruise but did anyway?
Are those things to worry about? Simple answer – not always. You may just bruise easier.
But there are some conditions that may warrant a discussion with your doctor.
What is a bruise?
A bruise is what you see on the surface of your skin as a result of damaged blood vessels right below the skin. The damage can be caused by any number of reasons.
Causes of bruising.
For example, women tend to bruise easier than men because of the way the skin cells and blood vessels are arranged. There’s not a lot that can be done about that, right?
Additionally, as you age, blood vessels become weaker, and your skin becomes thinner. That’s the perfect combination for bruises to appear more readily than they previously did.
There may also be genetic reasons for easy bruising. A family history of anemia, hemophilia or even the rare clotting disorder known as von Willebrand’s disease can all result in the seemingly random emergence of bruises.
When should I worry?
While bruising is a natural result of trauma to the body, and they generally aren’t something to worry about, there are a few examples of when bruising can indicate an underlying issue.
As I mentioned above, bruises usually occur due to some kind of trauma to the area. That’s why most bruises appear on legs and arms; those extremities are most likely to hit or be bumped by something.
Areas such as your torso, back, or upper thighs are usually not exposed in the same way as arms and legs, so bruises that appear in these areas should be checked by a doctor.
They get bigger.
Bruising is a form of swelling. When you sprain a joint, it usually swells, right? And with proper treatment, the swelling goes down. The same theories can be applied to bruises. A bruise is usually bigger when it first occurs and then gradually becomes smaller (and changes colors – more on that in a second) as it heals.
A bruise that gets larger as time goes on should definitely be discussed with your doctor. It could be a hematoma, which can indicate continuous bleeding below the skin surface.
It should be noted that skin color can affect the colors of a bruise. People with darker skin tones will see darker bruises, while people with medium skin tones will most likely notice more yellow or red in their bruises.
People with light skin tones will likely see a kaleidoscope of colors. New bruises are often dark red because the fresh blood that is pooling beneath the skin is oxygen-rich. As the blood vessels heal, bruises tend to turn blue, black, and purple, often in mottled tones. This can last 1-2 days.
Over the next week or so, the bruise may turn a sickly yellow or green color, which then turns into a light brown. The whole process from fresh to faded away is usually about two weeks.
If bruising gets darker (as mentioned above) or stays a particular color for a long time (especially at the beginning), there could be underlying issues. That’s another sign to check with your doctor.
This one is brief and to the point. If you have recently started a newly prescribed medicine, exercise routine, or diet and you notice bruising where you previously didn’t, talk to your doctor right away.
To give you the full scope, there are other underlying causes that could be at the root of why you bruise easily, and some of them are serious. Not to be alarmist, but skin disorders, blood disorders, and certain cancers can all easily produce bruises.
Even if you’ve always bruised easily, if you notice any change in how the bruises heal themselves, it’s worth taking note of. Your body is always changing, and anything out of the ordinary should be looked at by a professional.
The important thing to remember is to not panic at every little bruise. Take a moment to think about your actions and see if a bruise could be the result of something you had forgotten. But also be on the lookout for some of the indicators above and talk to your doctor if you have any concerns.
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