Bruises – Why We Get Them

A bruise is a common injury that causes the skin to become discolored. When there is bleeding beneath the surface of the skin it becomes evident as a black and blue mark. Eventually, if the person is healthy, the skin will reabsorb the blood and the black and blue mark will fade. A bruise may hurt at first but the pain subsides usually before the discoloration goes away.



Bruising occurs more frequently in:

  • Older people because their skin isn’t as thick as it once was.
  • Women because they typically have thinner skin.
  • People who exercise vigorously.
  • People who take anti-coagulating medications such as aspirin.
  • People who use topical or oral cortical steroids bruise more easily because it can make the skin thinner
  • People who use the dietary supplement ginkgo can also cause the skin to bruise more easily because it acts as a blood thinner

People who bruise easily should be checked to see if they have serious medical conditions. This would include having blood clotting issues due to taking certain medications or not having the correct amount of blood clotting proteins in the body. Bruising can also be a sign of physical abuse and this must be followed up with a physician or with the police if it is noticed and there is no explanation as to why it occurred.

Treating a bruise includes using a cold compress, elevating an extremity if it is on an arm or leg, taking acetaminophen for discomfort, and after the initial 48 hours, using a warm compress to help the flow of blood in the area.

While most bruises will resolve on their own, it is important to get medical attention if the bruise has a lot of swelling and pain or if it doesn’t start to resolve in two weeks and is still present after a month. Any bruising of the head or the eye should be followed up with a physician.

You can schedule an appointment with a physician at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center by calling 718-206-7001.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.