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Bruise

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Last updated June 11, 2022

Bruise quiz

Take a quiz to find out what's causing your bruise.

Bruise quiz

Take a quiz to find out what's causing your bruise.

Take bruise quiz

What is a bruise?

Bruises are a normal response to an injury or trauma such as a fall, a cut, or bumping into something hard, like furniture. These injuries can cause blood vessels near the surface of the skin to rupture. The blood from the vessels leaks into the tissues under the skin and gets trapped there, forming a bruise. Bruises can also be called contusions.

You may have bruises around more serious injuries like wounds, sprains, and bone fractures.

Hematomas are more serious bruises. They are typically larger and deeper than bruises. Fluid can build up in the area, causing swelling. Often the skin is a dark red, or black and blue, and is very tender.

It’s also normal to experience more bruising as you get older. Your skin becomes thinner and more delicate, so even a minor injury may cause a bruise.

But if you’re getting a lot of bruises with no obvious cause, it may be a symptom of a medical condition, such as vitamin deficiency, liver or kidney disease or even cancer.

Symptoms

Bruises are usually black and blue, though sometimes they can be purplish or green.

  • Black and blue discoloration
  • Pain
  • Swelling

Treatment

Bruises usually go away on their own in several days. You can apply an ice pack to reduce swelling. If you have other injuries, like a bad cut or a suspected sprain or fracture, you should see a doctor.


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Dr. Rothschild has been a faculty member at Brigham and Women’s Hospital where he is an Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. He currently practices as a hospitalist at Newton Wellesley Hospital. In 1978, Dr. Rothschild received his MD at the Medical College of Wisconsin and trained in internal medicine followed by a fellowship in critical care medicine. He also received an MP...
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