Bruises and Blood Spots Under the Skin

Courtesy of: Delicious Decadence


Topic Overview

Bruises, or contusions, occur 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
heal (usually within 2 to 4 weeks), they often turn colors, including
purplish-black, reddish-blue, or yellowish-green. Sometimes, they
spread down the body from gravity. A leg bruise usually will take
longer to heal than a bruise on the face or arms.
See illustrations of the anatomy of the skin and a bruise (contusion).
Most bruises are not a cause for concern and will go away on their
own. Home treatment may help speed healing and relieve the swelling
and soreness that often accompany bruises caused by injury. However,
severe bruising, swelling, and pain that begin within 30 minutes of an
injury may mean a more serious injury, such as a severe sprain or
You may bruise more easily than others. You may not even remember
bumping something. Bruising easily does not mean you have a serious
health problem, especially if bruising is minimal or shows up once in
a while.

* It is common for older adults to bruise easily from minor injuries,
especially injuries to the forearms, hands, legs, and feet. This is
because the skin changes as people age.
* Women tend to bruise from minor injuries—especially on the thighs,
buttocks, and upper arms—more easily than men.
* Sometimes, easy bruising runs in families.

Occasionally after an injury, blood collects and pools under the skin
(hematoma), giving the skin a spongy, rubbery, lumplike 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 unless it occurs on the
head after a head injury. It is not the same thing as a blood clot in
a vein, and it does not cause blood clots.
Sudden unexplained bruising or blood spots under the skin or a sudden
increase in the frequency of bruising may mean you have an abnormal
type of bruising (purpura or petechiae). This may be caused by:

* The side effects of a medication, such as aspirin or blood thinners
* A bleeding or clotting disorder, such as hemophilia, von
Willebrand's disease, thrombocytopenia, or another less common
bleeding or clotting disorder.
* Other medical conditions that affect clotting, such as an infection
or nutritional deficiency.

Medical treatment for abnormal bruising focuses on preventing or
stopping bleeding, changing or adjusting a medication that may be
causing the bruising, or treating the medical problem that is causing
the bruising.
To determine the seriousness of your bruises, be sure to review the
Emergencies and Check Your Symptoms sections.