A bruise, also called a contusion or an ecchymosis, is a visible bluish or purplish mark or patch appearing beneath the surface of your skin, resulting because blood leaked out of the deeper layers of the tissues. Bruises are usually caused by a blow or pressure but, in aged people, bruises may occur without a special reason.
Bruises often cause pain but are not normally dangerous. Sometimes bruises can be serious and lead to other more life threatening forms of hematoma, or can be associated with serious injuries as fractures and internal bleeding. Minor bruises may be easily recognized, in people with light skin color, by their characteristic blue or purple appearance (idiomatically described as "black and blue") in the days following the injury.
How long do bruises last? [change]
Bruises change color over time. That is because the body is fixing the bruise by breaking down and reabsorbing the blood, which makes the bruise to go through many colors before it later disappears. You can easily find out the age of a bruise just by looking at its color.
- When you first have a bruise, it is red because of the blood that is appearing just under the skin.
- Within 1 to 5 days the hemoglobin inside the blood changes and your bruise turns into the color of a bluish-purple or even black.
- After 5 to 10 days, the bruise usually becomes slightly green or yellow.
- Then, after 10 or 14 days, it finally becomes a yellowish-brown or light brown.
After that, in about 2 weeks, the bruise will fade away. Some people bruise easily, whereas others may not. This is because they may have more tough skin tissue, certain diseases or conditions, or may be taking a certain medication.
Also, blood vessels tend to become fragile as people get older, which is why elderly people may receive a bruise much more easily.
Speeding the healing process [change]
Applying cold when you first get a bruise helps make it more small because it stops the blood that's flowing to the area. It also keeps the swelling down. It is best to apply cold to the bruise for half an hour to an hour at a time for a day or two after you get a bruise. However, it is not good to place ice right on the skin. Put some icecubes in a plastic bag and wrap a towel around it, or else the bruise may get worse.
Another way to help heal your bruise is to put the bruised area above the level of your heart. This helps to slow the flow of the blood because more of the blood in your bruise will flow back toward the rest of your body instead of leaking out into the tissues. If you keep standing, more blood will flow to your bruise and the bruise will grow faster.
- "Bruises". kidshealth.org. http://kidshealth.org/teen/your_body/skin_stuff/bruises.html. Retrieved 7 April 2010.
- "bruise (pathology) -- Britannica Online Encyclopedia". britannica.com. http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/82072/bruise. Retrieved 7 April 2010.