Bruises or contusions are common injuries to the skin that result from the rupture of small blood vessels under the skin.

Blood from damaged vessels under the skin pool near the surface of the skin to produce what we see as a blue or other dark colored spot.

This spot is from skin discoloration from red blood cells and their contents. A bruise is also called an injury.

What are the symptoms?

At first, the skin around the bruise may actually be red. A few hours later, it turns blue or dark purple, and within a few days as the skin heals, it takes on a yellow or greenish tint.

The site of the bruise is often tender and sometimes even painful for the first few days, but the pain usually subsides as the color fades.

Since the surface of the skin is not compromised, there is no risk of infection. With repeated bruising in the same area, the skin in that area may remain a yellow-brown hue until manage to deposit enough iron in the same place.

What are the causes?

People usually get bruises when they bump into something or when someone bumps into them. Injuries can occur in some athletes such as weightlifters and athletes.

They result from microscopic bruising of blood vessels under the skin. Bruises in athletes can be the result of trauma and be accompanied by some bleeding.

Unexplained accidental bruises that appear easily or for no apparent reason may be a sign of disorders in the blood clotting process or the result of taking blood-thinning medications /anticoagulants/, especially if the bluing of the skin is accompanied by frequent nosebleeds or bleeding gums.

Often those bruises that are thought to be unexplained on the shin and thigh for example, are actually due to a collision with a bed, cupboard or some other object, but one simply cannot remember it.

Injuries in the elderly occur more often because their skin has become thinner with age. The tissues supporting the main blood vessels become weaker and thinner with age.

Bruises appear more often with vitamin C deficiency in the body – ascorbic acid deficiency or scurvy.

Injuries in children can be due to physical violence or abuse.

Treatment of bruises

Treatment is most effective immediately after the trauma has been inflicted while the affected skin is still red and fresh.

To speed up the healing of blood vessels and skin, apply a cold compress with ice cubes or a bag of frozen peas or corn to the affected area for 20-30 minutes. Do not apply the ice directly to the skin, but wrap it in a towel.

If the bruise has covered a larger area than the leg for example, then the limb should be elevated as high as possible for the first 24 hours after the injury.

To relieve pain, paracetamol or ibuprofen can be taken in doses as indicated on the leaflet.

Avoid aspirin as it slows blood clotting and may prolong internal bleeding.

About 48 hours after the injury, you can apply a warm compress to the bruise for about 10 minutes.

Doing this procedure 2-3 times a day will increase the blood flow to the bruised area, allowing the skin to start absorbing the blood faster and the skin discoloration will fade.

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