Which condition is commonly known as a bruise?


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There are common accidents such as banging you shin on the table, falling of from a bike, or running into a wall which in one time or another will leave you with a bruise that you’ll never forget. Some people would just leave a bruise in time to heal but some would prefer to know the details on how to manage the same. So what is a bruise?

A contusion, or commonly known as bruise, are damaged or broken tiny blood vessels resulting from the trauma or an amount of blow to the skin. The resulting bruise or bump is caused by the blood leaks in these damaged blood vessels into the surrounding tissues or by the bodily response to the injury recently acquired. When blood seeps out into the outer layers of the skin, the skin appears to be purplish. This condition is what is known to be as ecchymosis.

Age factor is one thing to consider in the severity of the bruise that may be acquired. For young children, it may require quite an amount of force to cause a bruise. In elderly persons, minor scrapes and bumps may result in wide bruising. This is because as individuals age, their blood vessels become more fragile. Sometimes, even in the absence of a prior injury, bruises may occur in old people.

Another factor in considering the amount bruising is the medication intake of an individual. This is because medications or drugs get in the way with blood clotting. This leads to more bleeding into the tissues or the skin itself. Some of these medications include arthritis relief drugs such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatories. There are also over-the-counter (OTC) treatments (ex. Aspirin) that render the same effect.

For patients who have blood clots in their heart or legs, doctors often prescribe Warfarin (Coumadin) to prevent clotting. However, if not properly administered, Warfarin can cause further bruising at high dosages. Prednisone and other cortisone medications can increase fragility in tiny blood cells of the skin, thus, promotes bruising. Patients with a previous history of acquired clotting problems especially in liver diseases like cirrhosis or inherited clotting problems associated in hemophilia are at greater risk of life-threatening bleeding or extensive bruising.

The origin of the several terminologies in the types of bruising also relate to their respective causes and appearances. Blood built up beneath the skin which have the size ranging from one to three millimeters are called Petechiae. They are small red dots that can appear at any part of the body, usually on the legs. They can develop in clusters and they signify the existence of a serious health problem. This condition includes the abnormal functioning of some blood clothing components such as the platelets or infection of the heart valves or otherwise known as endocarditis. Bruises in the belly button or around the navel can mean that there is bleeding inside the abdomen. The battle’s sign or bruising behind the ear can be a result of skull fracture. For bruises that are firm, multiple, raised and are developed without any clear cause, indicate an “autoimmune” disease.


As time passes by, bruises change in the way they appear. Sometimes the bruises themselves indicate how long it has existed. Initially, a bruise will appear to be reddish. The redness is due to the color of the blood reflecting on the skin. When 1-2 days have passed, the redness will eventually change into the color blue or purple. When the bruise is one week old, it turns to green and on day 8-9, the bruise will be in the yellowish-brown color. Normally, a bruise will take about 2-3 weeks to heal in which the skin reverts to its normal state and color.

Sometimes, the bruise might not disappear or heal in time but instead it may increase in size overtime and become firm. This usually leads to increasing pain for the bruised area. According to medical studies, this instance may have two causes. First, the condition may be called hematoma. Hematoma occurs when the body may wall the blood off because a large accumulated amount of blood is stacked underneath the skin or muscle. So in short, hematoma is a slight amount of blood that is walled off. This can be cured by draining the blood by medical experts.

The second condition is related to the bodily deposits of calcium in the injured area. This is a much lesser problem compared to the first condition. Calcium is the component which makes up the majority of the bone. Once the second condition develops, the bruise becomes firm and tender. We then have a condition called myositis ossifcans or heterotopic ossification.


When an injury is safe to conclude to be a bruise and physicians have not identified any broken bones, further tests will not be necessary. Immediate treatment prescribed by the doctors can be immediately administered.

If there is the presence of severe pain or swelling, an x-ray maybe conducted by health professionals to check on the affected area to make sure that there are no broken bones.

For bruises which occur with no clear causes or with no apparent reasons, blood testing may be required to check on the individual’s bleeding disorder.

Particular patterns of bruises may apprehend the doctor of certain possibilities of physical abuse of the patient. The severity and the stages of the bruise are also determinative factors of the presence of physical abuses.


A number of steps have been proven effective in minimizing or preventing bruises following an injury. The most basic of these procedures is the cold compress. A plastic bag filled with ice and covered with towel is a soothing treatment over the injured area. The towel cover is to prevent direct contact of the ice to the skin as it would cause frostbite. Today, there are available commercial ice packs which you can immediately use. A bag of frozen peas are also said to be excellent substitutes for cold compresses. Frozen peas take the shape of the injured area and can be frozen and used again.

Blood flow to the injured area is reduced by the cold compress. This minimizes the bleeding that may proceed into the skin, therefore decreases the size of the bruise. Inflammation in the area of injury is also prevented by the cold and it also limits the swelling. It is suggested that the bruised area be lifted to a certain level above the heart. When an extremity is placed lower than that of the heart level, tendency is that more blood flow proceeds into the bruised area resulting to more swelling and bleeding.

Avoid taking medications which are not prescribed because some of them can even aggravate the condition. Any doubts on the medications, on whether or not it contributes to further bruising, should be resolved by your doctor or pharmacists. On the other hand, unless your physician says otherwise, do not stop any medications you are taking to reduce your bruising.

For individuals who are taking treatments to minimize clotting or blood thinners or for those who have abnormalities in clotting, they should seek medical advice immediately.


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