What is bruising?
Bruising is the mark on the skin caused by blood trapped under the surface. It happens when an injury ruptures small blood vessels. Those vessels break open and leak blood under the skin.
Bruises are often painful and swollen. You can get skin, bone, and muscle bruises. Bone bruises are the most serious. It can take months for a bruise to fade. Most of them last about two weeks.
Cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy and targeted therapy, can increase the risk of bruising.
How bad is my bruising?
Mild: It involves localized bruising (bleeding from smaller blood vessels, which typically doesn’t require medical treatment)
Moderate: It involves generalized bruising (bleeding from larger blood vessels), discoloration of the skin, pain and swelling.
Severe: You may have intense pain, bleeding from the gums, nose, or mouth. Visit your doctor if you bruise often for no reason and a bruise isn’t improving after 2 weeks.
How to manage mild bruising?
- Use an ice pack to reduce swelling. Wrap the pack in cloth to avoid putting it directly on your bruised skin. Leave the ice on your bruise for 15 minutes. Repeat this every hour as needed.
- Rest the bruised area.
- If possible, raise the bruised area above your heart to keep blood from settling into the bruised tissue.
- Take an over-the-counter medication, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), to reduce pain in the area. Avoid aspirin or ibuprofen as they may increase bleeding.
- Wear tops with long sleeves and pants to protect bruise on your arms and legs.
How to manage moderate and severe bruising?
Contact your health care provider immediately if you have:
- Unexplained bruising, especially in a recurring pattern
- Bruise that aren’t painful
- Bruise that reappear in the same area without injury
- Any black bruises on your legs
What causes bruising?
- Bruises can occur in some people who exercise vigorously, such as athletes and weight lifters. These bruise result from microscopic tears in blood vessels under the skin.
- Cancer treatments lower the number of blood platelets that help blood to clot and stop bleeding.
- Unexplained bruise that occur easily or for no apparent reason may indicate a bleeding disorder, especially if the bruising is accompanied by frequent nosebleeds or bleeding gums.
- Often, what are thought to be unexplained bruise on the shin or the thigh, for example, actually result from bumps into a bedpost or other object and failing to recall the injury.
- Bruise in elderly people frequently occur because their skin has become thinner with age. The tissues that support the underlying blood vessels have become more fragile.
- Bruises are also more common in those taking medicine to thin the blood.
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