The Basics of Bruising

Bruises, also known as contusions, occur under the skin when a trauma is experienced. This is a common condition and a “trauma” can occur from a number of reasons such as blunt trauma, an injection, having blood drawn or an injury. When you experience any of those traumas, capillaries get damaged, causing a rush of blood to rise to the surface, resulting in skin discoloration, also known as a bruise. With a bruise, no blood is on the outside surface of the skin, it is all contained internally and can take some time to heal, depending on the severity. 

Those who are older or taking certain medications, such as blood thinners, are more susceptible to getting bruises. Other medications including aspirin and pain relievers can also cause you to bruise easily. This could also be the reason bruises take longer to heal. 

Bruises may take a few days to fully appear at the surface, but they have a pretty consistent healing process. At first, the bruise will appear to be red in color as the blood is new. Over the course of the next few days, the bruise will become a purple color and then blue. After about a week, the bruise should become yellow in color and begin to fade away. Depending on the type of trauma and severity of the injury, this process may be longer or shorter. It’s important to pay close attention to the stages of healing with a bruise. If you find your injury is taking significantly longer to heal than normal, you may want to talk with your primary care physician. 

While bruising is extremely common and goes away on its own, there are a few things you can do to help the healing process. 

  • Ice and heat therapy. Just like with most other injuries, a combination of ice and heat therapy can help reduce swelling and inflammation as well as helping the blood vessels to heal faster. 
  • Elevation. Use gravity to your advantage when trying to heal a bruise. By raising the area of your body where the bruise is prevalent above your heart, you can help ease inflammation and blood flow to the affected area. 
  • Get plenty of rest. Your body can do a lot of healing while you sleep. Getting lots of rest can help bruising heal faster. 
  • Compression. Even though the blood is contained internally, it still bleeds as if it were a cut or scrape, so you should treat it the same. Apply pressure to the affected area to help the blood vessels close off faster and prevent further bleeding. 

If you are more susceptible to bruising, be extra cautious when participating in activities that could cause injury. If you were to experience injury or trauma, follow the above measures to reduce the severity of your bruise and help it heal faster. Be sure to talk with your doctor about your bruising habits and see if there are some additional preventative measures you can take to help reduce your risk of bruising. 

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