We can get bruises from bumping into objects without knowing, getting hit by objects or falling over. Black bruises are formed when the blood vessels beneath the skin are damaged. When the blood pigment is absorbed the bruise becomes blue.
Bruises and swelling are more obvious in areas with particularly thin skin. Women tend to bruise more easily than men because women have thinner layers of skin, their tissues are more delicate and they are more likely to get thrombocytopenia ― a lack of platelets in the blood.
With aging, connective tissues that protect the blood vessels start to break and weaken, thus becoming more vulnerable to bruising.
Long hours of exposure to the sun can also cause weakening of the connective tissue and other elastic fibers, increasing the likelihood of the epithelium blood vessel to get damaged, so areas most vulnerable to the sun such as the hand and the back of the arm can get easily damaged.
Bruises easily form when there is an insufficient number of blood platelets, which play an important role in the clotting of blood, or when the number of the blood platelets is normal but their functions are poor. There are different diseases that cause abnormality of the blood platelet and in these cases the sources must be found. In relation to medications, people who bruise easily may be having side effects from contraceptive pills, medications for arthritis, or from medications such as diuretics or warfarin that impede on the clotting of the blood.
Aspirin disturbs the functioning of platelets thus causing bruises to form easily and preventing the stopping of nosebleeds. Furthermore, when steroids are used for a long time to treat long-lasting hives, atopic dermatitis or bronchial asthma, they can cause bruises to form more easily. When there is an abnormality with blood clotting, bruises can also be formed.
If the bruises have just formed, immediately press down on it using a wet towel wrapped around ice for 7 minutes. This prevents blood from coming out of the blood vessel, reducing the chance of forming a bruise.
Two days after getting a bruise apply a heat pack to it. This will accelerate the circulation of the blood to help the body clean up the red blood cells that have come out from their tissues. People with weak blood vessels should take plenty of protein and vitamin C as well as eating plenty of fruit and vegetables.
It is very important to avoid smoking or drinking and to have a balanced intake of nutrients. If bruises form easily while taking aspirin or ibuprofen, switch to Tylenol.
If a person bruises easily, or has frequent gum bleeding or nose bleeding, and if the person does not eat well, leukemia should be suspected.
It takes a while for bruises to be absorbed again if the bruising is deep, but they will disappear in the end.
The commonly known act of rubbing the bruise with an egg is not medically proven to be effective.
The author is a professor of Sungkyun Kwan University School of medicine and doctor of the department of Family Medicine at Samsung Medical Center