Reviewed by Dr Claudia Pastides, 24th April 2019
The vast majority of people will have experienced some form of bruising in their life. Bruises are coloured (blue, purple, green etc.) patches that appear on the skin after some kind of injury. This impact causes blood vessels called capillaries to burst, and the blood released from those vessels leaks up beneath the skin. After a few days, bruises usually fade in colour before disappearing.
A bruise might feel painful or tender to touch, but they’re not usually an indicator of anything too serious. However, there are a small number of circumstances where you may need to have a doctor look at your bruising to reassure you, or advise you on how to care for it.
Causes of bruising
Bruising is the result of blood under the skin. This usually happens after some kind of injury or impact to the area. Certain people are more likely to bruise than others. Elderly people have much thinner skin, with less tissue to protect their capillaries, making them more likely to develop bruises with less impact.
Some medications can also increase your risk of bruising - for example, if you’re taking a treatment which thins your blood. Speak to a doctor if you’re concerned about your current medication causing bruises to appear more frequently.
If you notice bruises, especially multiple ones, or if you don’t remember an injury then it’s best to discuss with your doctor to make sure there’s no underlying cause.
Treatment for bruises
Most bruises will clear up and disappear on their own with no treatment at all. This can happen within days or weeks, depending on the bruise. However, you can speed up the healing process by placing a cold compress over the injured area as soon as you can after the injury. This helps to reduce the pain and swelling. If you’re suffering from pain related to the bruised area, you can also take over-the-counter painkillers like paracetamol and ibuprofen for temporary relief.
Bruises are a natural part of life for many, and they’re almost always harmless. However, you should see a doctor if you:
- Start to develop lots of bruises with no explanation
- Have had a bruise that hasn’t faded after a few weeks
- Notice that you have suddenly started to bruise more easily, and can’t explain why
Certain facial bruising may also be worth a trip to the doctor. For example, bruises around the eye can cause problems with vision if they’re not monitored carefully, and bruises around your jaw or cheek can affect your eating habits. Speak to a GP today if you have a bruise that you’d like to have checked out.
The information provided is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Seek the advice of a doctor with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never delay seeking or disregard professional medical advice because of something you have read here.