Why Do We Bruise Easily?

bruises christy gordon

A bruise is blood that has leaked into your skin. The blood is red, but it appears blue when seen though the skin layers. Bruises can be frustrating, especially for women who always get them on their legs the day they wear their new INC empire-waist jersey dresses.

Bruises are a normal response to injury. Who among us has not walked into the corner of the bed or miscalculated the exact location of the coffee table when crossing the room? Most of the time bruising does not indicate any underlying diseases, except for clumsiness.

Women bruise more easily than men, especially on their thighs, calves and buttocks. This easy bruising is because women have exposed blood vessels and thinner skin as compared to men, so even unnoticed injuries to their legs leave noticeable bruises.

Usually bruising is a minor, lifelong problem. However, if bruising develops rapidly or is getting progressively worse, then investigation is needed. Also, bruising that is associated with taking medications like aspirin, plavix or coumadin should be discussed with a physician. Bruises that appear on the face, back, or abdomen are not typical and should also be evaluated by a physician. Also, if bruising is accompanied by bleeding such as heavy periods, recurrent nose bleeds, bleeding from the gums, or blood in your urine or stool, then you should see a doctor.

There is little you can do to prevent bruises. When bruising is the result of taking certain medications such as ibuprofen, fish oil or ginkgo, then stopping these can lessen bruising. Also, wearing long sleeves and long pants can be the difference in whether a bruise develops or not after a minor injury.

After an injury, try to minimize the amount of blood that leaks out to minimize the bruise. Sit down and apply pressure to the injured spot for 10-15 minutes. You can also use ice, but only for 15-20 minutes (longer than 20 minutes can cause worsening of the bruise). Apply ice with a wash cloth or other layer between it and your skin. Avoid hot showers or hot baths for 24 hours after the injury as the heat can restart bleeding into the skin.

Vitamin K and bromelain (found in pineapples) might be helpful in resolving bruises more quickly. Look for them in topical products or in oral supplements that can be taken for a few days after a bruise develops. And look out for the coffee table.

Post written by Dr. Jeffrey Benabio, Copyright The Derm Blog 2009.

Photo: Christy Gordon (flickr)

12 thoughts on “Why Do We Bruise Easily?”

  1. Great article! Very useful for me personally 🙂

  2. Since the highest concentrations of bromelain are found int he leaves and stems of pineapples, not in the fruit, it’s great advice to go for creams and tablets, instead of just trying to eat more pineapple.
    Delicious though it is.

  3. I bruise really easily and trying to keep my legs bruise free drives me crazy. I just started using the BruiseMD gel along with their bromelain pills. It’s really helping so looks like I will be able to wear shorts this summer 🙂

  4. I was wondering what you can tell us about flat warts. I have many flat warts on my face and my dermatologist precribed me with a gel to gently peel them off. She told me it can take up to a year to remove warts like this. I have read that TCA 20% and Jessner’s can be used to burn them away with very good results. Is this a good idea? I am 28 year old woman.

  5. Is bruising related to spider and/or varicose veins in any way? In the last few years I have developed an embarrassing number of spider veins as well as a few varicose veins on my thighs, ankles and especially behind my knees (I assume this is related to pregnancy, carrying a toddler all day and crossing my legs). I’ve also noticed a few bad bruises that have appeared on my thighs in areas that I don’t even remember injuring at all. Not many…maybe two per year and they disappear in about a week.

  6. The bruises that I am constantly battling with are not what I see in the picture above. This pic looks like normal bruises to me. I can barely bump my forearms or legs and develop red/purple spots within seconds. Sometimes even tearing my skin. This has been going on for at least the last 8 years…starting in early 40’s. I can even just scratch an itch on my arms or legs and develop them. All blood work appears normal. Ugly and frustrating. My husband is very frustrated that an answer cannot be found. During our journey to find an answer, thyroid cancer was discovered. However, that is behind me following thyroidectomy and treatment, but the problem still exists. I have seen nearly every specialist other than a Rheumontologist. I guess that will be my next visit. Do you have any suggestions?

  7. Bruising easily is also a symptom of Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome.

  8. QUESTION: Is the Vitamin K oxide really superior to regular Vitamin K in speeding up the healing of bruises? I’ve seen a non -prescription K oxide cream on the internet.

  9. I have had both Radiesse and Sculptra injections and have obtained bruises from a number of physicians so I know its not the technique. I have used a product for Bruising called Arnika Forte. It has arnica montama 30x and a very high grade of Bromelain 2400 gdu all in one. I have recommended it to everyone. You can find information out about the product and the manufacturer by typing in the name Arnika Forte.

  10. Debbie S. /Idaho says:

    Iam 58 & have started bruising easily primarily red ones on my arms. I also am lacking energy. Is this something to worry about..I do take fish oil but not daily.

  11. I bruise easily and scars/discoloration remain even when there’s no break in the skin. I also have childhood scars since childhood from insect bites. Is there any way to remove old scars and skin discoloration?

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