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You are here : 3-RX.com > Medical Encyclopedia > Medical Symptoms > Bruising


Alternate Names : Purpura, Hematoma, Ecchymoses, Contusion, Petechiae

Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors | Symptoms & Signs | Diagnosis & Tests | Prevention & Expectations | Treatment & Monitoring

Bruising is an area of discolored skin. Bruising develops when the lining of small blood vessels is damaged, allowing blood cells to escape into the skin and tissues. This condition most often occurs after a person injures a particular part of the body.

What is going on in the body?

A person may notice several stages of bruising. A bruise usually starts out as a red area or as tiny red dots or splotches on the skin. Within days to a week or so, the bruise becomes more purple. As it heals, it becomes brownish-yellow. Generally, bruises heal and disappear within 2 to 3 weeks.

What are the causes and risks of the symptom?

As a person ages, he or she will bruise more easily. The layer of protective fat just under the skin becomes thinner. The small blood vessels also become more fragile and are more easily damaged. Frequent long-term exposure to the sun can also cause the skin to be more fragile and likely to bruise. The tendency to bruise easily may run in families.

Other causes of bruising may include the following:

  • blood disorders, including problems with blood clotting such as hemophilia A or hemophilia B
  • blood-related diseases such as leukemia, a blood cancer
  • liver disease, such as cirrhosis
  • lymphomas
  • certain disorders in which bone marrow cells grow at an abnormal rate
  • nutritional deficiencies, such as deficiency in vitamins C, K, B12, or folic acid
  • sepsis, or severe infection in the bloodstream
  • systemic lupus erythematosus, an autoimmune disorder in which a person's body attacks its own cells for unknown reasons
  • trauma, or injury
  • prolonged coughing or vomiting
  • medications, such as blood thinners
  • abuse, such as child abuse, spousal abuse, or elder abuse
  • surgery or other medical procedures
  • allergy-related disorders


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    Bruising: Symptoms & Signs

    Author: Eileen McLaughlin, RN, BSN
    Reviewer: Melissa Sanders, PharmD
    Date Reviewed: 07/27/01

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