What Is a Bruise?
Bruising is a common bodily reaction that most often occurs when soft tissues are injured or strained. Often times, home care and healing time are all that are needed to recover from a bruise. However, individuals with unexplained bruising or bruises that do not get better within two weeks or completely heal within four weeks should always seek medical treatment.
Common Causes of Bruising
Bruises commonly occur following soft tissue injuries. Falling and bumping into objects are common causes of bruising. Even minor impacts are often enough to damage the underlying blood vessels. Impact injuries caused by car accidents and physical altercations can also cause bruising. Vigorous exercise and weight lifting may also result in bruising, since increased physical activity and added pressure can cause small tears in the capillaries.
Bleeding Disorders and Severe Injuries
Unexplained bruising may indicate bleeding or clotting disorders that develop when blood platelets and substances responsible for healthy blood clotting do not function as they should. Additional symptoms of potential bleeding or clotting disorders include bleeding gums and nosebleeds.
It is important for individuals with unexplained bruising to seek medical attention as soon as possible to ensure prompt treatment and prevent severe internal bleeding, especially if the bruising is accompanied by additional bleeding symptoms. Severe injuries such as blows to the head or body that result in bruising or swelling over a large portion of the body also require medical attention, as these symptoms may indicate a broken bone or concussion. Bruising that surrounds the eye typically heals on its own, however, individuals should seek medical attention if their vision is hindered, or if they have difficulty moving the eye from side to side.
Treatment for Bruises
In many cases, mild bruises do not require medical treatment. For severe bruises without broken bones, alternating ice and heat applications to the affected areas can help to reduce swelling and pain. Applying a cold compress to the affected area immediately after injuries occur may also help to prevent severe bruising.