Bruises are sometimes called “black and blue marks” because that is how they look whenever the body has experienced some type of trauma or blow. But did you know that women and older people are more prone to bruising than others?
What Causes a Bruise?
Bruises are caused by a blow to the body breaking the blood vessels and capillaries directly below the skin’s surface, leaking blood into the area which causes the black and blue mark. It’s also tender to the touch because of this rupture. When the skin is cut the blood is allowed to escape through the skin, but when the skin remains intact, the blood stays under the skin.
How Long Do Bruises Last?
Bruises usually go through many different color changes. These changes mean your body is healing the bruised area and absorbing the blood back into the system. You can tell how old a bruise is by its color.When a bruise first shows up, its usually reddish color because the blood is new. After a couple of days it turns blue, purple, or black because a substance is changing the blood. After a week or so, it turns yellow or green. Then in about 2 weeks it turns brown, and eventually disappears after 2 weeks.
Why Do Some People Bruise Easier Than Others?
Thin skin contributes to easy bruising. So people who are significantly overweight may bruise more readily than other people. Aging people also have thinner skin and therefore bruise easier. Weak blood vessel walls can also cause easy bruising. People on blood thinners may cause bigger bruises and may bruise more often, so pay attention to the medication you are taking.
You can’t really prevent bruises from happening, but if you have one you can keep the bruise from getting too big or hurting by following a couple easy steps. First, get an ice pack or a frozen bag of vegetables to put on the bruise. This will slow the inflammation and preventing as much blood flow to the area. You should also elevate the bruise. If you get a bruise on your leg, lay down so your leg is above your heart. This will slow the blood flow to the bruised area. Put your ice pack on the bruise while resting. Use ice for about 30 minutes a few times a day for the first 48 hours.
While you can try to be more careful, wear protective pads when riding a bike, or any other injury prone activity, there are natural substances that may lessen the chance you’ll bruise. Bioflavanoids found in colorful fruit and veggies, especially citrus fruits, are helpful in decreasing bruising. Bromelain has also been shown to have some effect on speeding the recovery time of bruises, minimizing the pain and swelling, as well as the duration of the bruise.
A bruise is usually not a reason for concern, but if you experience several bruises and you haven’t been bumped or hurt in any way, you should contact your doctor. Also, if a bruise lasts more than 2 weeks, seek advice.
November 29th, 2008
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