Also known as a contusion, usually a bruise occurs when the soft tissues of our body are bumped. While bruises form easily on some people, other people may have sturdy skin tissue that may not develop bruises easily.

On many occasions, the small veins as well as capillaries (which are the minutes blood vessels) just beneath the skin surface rupture as a result of injuries caused to the soft tissues. On such occasions, there is a leakage of the red blood cells from these delicate blood vessels. Soon these leaked blood vessels accumulate just beneath the skin surface making that particular area appear reddish, bluish, blackish or sometimes even purplish. These black-and-blue marks derive their name from such discoloured spots under the skin surface.

While the body starts healing itself, the color of the bruises undergoes various changes. Such changes in the color of the bruises are an indication of the fact that the body is either metabolizing or disintegrating the red blood cells in your skin. In fact, your body undergoes this process to heal itself whenever it is injured.

What causes bruising?

When an individual injures himself it results in bruising, this is mainly attributed to internal bleeding beneath the skin surface. It has been found that some people have a propensity to bruise more easily than others. For instance, aged people may be very susceptible to forming bruises as their skin becomes thinner making the tissues present below quite fragile. As a result they suffer from internal bleeding more easily when injured.

In case you get plenty of bruises all of a sudden or begin to bruise for not specific reason, it is important to check with your general practitioner (GP). Sometimes, any abnormal bruising may be a symptom of an ailment. For instance, it may signify some kind of problem with blood clots in your body.

Size and shape

The shape of bruises may directly correspond to the instrument or object that is responsible for causing the injury. Alternatively, they may also be modified owing to additional aspects. Often, bruises turn out to be more prominent with the passage of time, leading to added size as well as swelling. Moreover, bruises occurring in other body areas apart from the site of impact (place of the injury) are known as ectopic bruising. This usually happens when the tissue where the injury has been caused is loose, thereby permitting the blood to move freely beneath the skin to other locations owing to gravitational or other types of forces. An ideal example of ectopic bruising is a black eye.

Several aspects, such as age of an individual, gender, genetics, condition as well as the type of tissue that has been injured, skin tone, location of the injury, forces involved and even diseases are responsible for the shape and size of bruises. Below is a brief discussion on each of these aspects with a view to understand the issue better.

Age: As discussed above, the skin of elderly people as well as some specific tissues are usually thinner and comparatively less supple. Therefore, they are more prone to get bruised easily.

Gender: It has been observed that females are more prone to bruises because of their enhanced subcutaneous fat.

Skin tone: Bruises causes discoloration of the skin and they are more marked in people with lighter/ fairer complexions.

Genetics: In spite of their absolutely normal coagulation factors, it has been found that natural redheads are prone to bruise more. However, the visibility or prominence of the bruises may perhaps be more owing to their relatively lighter complexion.

Tissue condition and type: When a soft tissue is injured, the bruises are likely to form over a large area compared to an injury to firmer tissues. This is primarily owing to the ease with which blood flows to the soft tissues due to the rupture of the small veins as well as capillaries beneath the skin surface.

Location: When the injury causes more widespread vascularity it results in additional bleeding.

Forces: This is quite understandable that when the striking force is more, it will naturally result in greater bruising.

Diseases: Several health conditions such as diseases related to platelets and blood vessels, coagulation and/ or deficiencies may enhance the chances of bruising owing to additional bleeding.

The phases of a bruise

Just envisage that you are hit by a baseball in the leg. Apart from the initial surprise and pain, it is necessary that your body will undergo several phases that are described briefly below.

First and foremost, you are likely to develop a bump at the site of impact that will be tender and appear red or purplish. Gradually, the lump may distend owing to blood accumulation underneath the injured tissue.

A few days later, the appearance of the bruise will either be bluish or may even look blackish. And after five to ten days, the appearance of the bruise may turn greenish or sometimes even yellow.

As time passes, the color of the bruise is very likely to turn pale brown - say after 10 days to 14 days. Subsequently, the color will become lighter gradually and eventually the mark will fade. In fact, nearly all bruises disappear about two weeks after the injury, while some may fade even earlier. Nevertheless, if you find that a bruise persists even after two weeks, you should talk to your personal physician.


There are various different types of bruises and treatment for each of them may differ. If you have sustained a minor bruise, you will generally require minimal treatment, which may include RICE (which denotes four things - rest, ice packs, compression and elevation). In addition, you may need to take painkillers, especially NSAIDs. After you have recovered, you will need to undertake some light stretching workouts.

It is important to note that in the case of minor bruises application of ice on the site of impact immediately and keeping the area/ body part elevated may help in lessening or even completely putting off swelling, as they help in curbing the flow of blood to the affected area. At the same time, these measures will help to prevent any internal bleeding. In order to ensure quick recovery, it is important to take adequate rest as well as prevent the area from being injured again.

At the same time, bear in mind that applying a cold compress to the affected area (bruise) for no less than 10 minutes will greatly help in reducing swelling. This may also help in reducing the amount of bruising following any injury. Subsequently, it is advisable that you apply a little quantity of Elma 04 product to the bruise.

The gate control theory of pain recommends that you massage the area gently and also apply moderate heat to the area with a view to promote the flow of blood as well as alleviate pain caused by the bruise. However, bear in mind that if there is further pain after the massage, it is an indication of the fact that the massage is worsening the injury. In fact, in most cases of injuries, you are advised not to apply these methods before three days have lapsed since the initial damage. This will ensure that you are applying the techniques only after the stoppage of all internal bleedings. This is important because any enhanced flow of blood to the affected area will not only enable additional healing factors in the affected area, but also promote drainage. However, in case the internal bleeding has not stopped, it will encourage additional blood to leak out of the injured area and make the bruise even worse.

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