We hit our leg with the corner of a table. From here, the proteins that are next to the small blood vessels, near the skin, that rupture as a result of the trauma, are activated. After the blow, if there is no cut, the blood has nowhere to go and, therefore, accumulates, spills and forms clots. This accumulated blood forms the discoloration known as a hematoma or contusion.
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What do the colors of your bruise indicate?
A bruise that has just appeared does not have the same appearance as one that is a few days old. You can purchase various colors as it heals. In most cases, it usually goes through four phases before they heal:
- Reddish-purple: When they appear, they take on a tone that reflects the color of blood on the skin.
- Blue violet: After a day or two, the initial red undergoes a change and the bruise turns blue or purple. This is because hemoglobin, an iron-containing substance that carries oxygen, changes in the blood and the bruise turns bluish-purple.
- Green: after approximately six days, the color changes to greenish.
- Yellow: it is the last stage of the bruise, just before disappearing completely. This usually happens within two weeks.
Therefore, the color of a bruise can give us an idea of how many days we have had it. As we have seen, the body can repair the bruised area in two or three weeks. The intensity and tonality depend on factors such as the severity of the blow, its location and the color of the skin. Bruises on the face or arms tend to heal faster than those on the legs.
The six possible causes of bruises
According to British columbia, a bruise usually appears for reasons such as:
- A hit: As we have seen, most of the time bruises appear when the blood vessels are broken due to a blow, that is, when there is a leak of blood from these small blood vessels of the skin to the surrounding tissue.
- Age: bruises tend to appear more easily in older people because their capillaries are more fragile. Even a light bump or scratch can bruise an older person. It can also happen that a bruise appears without a previous injury.
- Certain medications– Some drugs interfere with blood clotting and therefore cause more bleeding in the skin or tissues. Among the most implicated are non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (ibuprofen), anticoagulants used to slow blood clotting such as aspirin, warfarin, or heparin, or cortisone medications such as prednisone.
- Hereditary reasons– People with inherited clotting problems, such as hemophilia or acquired.
- Liver diseases, such as cirrhosis.
- Intense exercise– Bruises can also appear in some people who do strenuous exercise. These bruises are the result of microscopic tears in the blood vessels under the skin. A typical example is purple toenails in runners.
- Bone trauma: A sprain injury that causes ligament sprains can lead to a bone bruise.
- Arthritis: Also problems such as arthritis, which cause the surfaces of the bones to rub against each other. In the case of bone hematoma, pain in the injured area, inflammation and color change usually appear.
- Ehlers Danlos syndrome: Syndrome Ehlers–Give them (EDSis a group of inherited disorders characterized by extremely loose or lax joints, highly elastic (hyperelastic) skin in which bruises easily form, and blood vessels that are easily damaged.
How to heal a bruise
Once the bruise has appeared, there is not much you can do to make it go away. But you can shorten the time it takes to heal in several ways:
- Apply cold: place ice on the injured area, but without it coming into direct contact with the skin. You can use some ice packs that are marketed for this purpose. The cold helps reduce blood flow in the area and therefore limits bleeding into the skin and reduces the size of the hematoma by causing vasoconstriction. Cold also reduces inflammation in the area of injury and swelling. This is similar to what happens when we apply pressure to stop bleeding from a cut.
- Elevate the area: lift the injured area above the heart, if possible. If we have hit our leg, you must keep it raised. This will keep blood from pooling, help with swelling, and prevent the bruise from getting bigger.
- Apply heat after two days– While cold helps limit bruising, applying a little heat can speed healing and increase blood flow to the bruised area. This allows the skin to reabsorb blood more quickly until the bruise loses its color.
- Apply arnica– Various investigations have been conducted on the application of arnica, an herbal supplement that contains flavonoids and which is believed to have an effect on promoting healthy blood vessels. Although these studies are scarce, there have been some that do defend this theory. Like the one posted in Clinical Journal of Aesthetic Dermatology, according to which arnica can help reduce the development of a bruise and accelerate healing.
When should we worry
Although bruises are not usually serious, there are some cases in which we must pay attention, especially if it has appeared suddenly. Warning signs include:
- Increased pain and swelling
- Warmth sensation
Another red flag is if the bruise is large or in unusual places, such as the abdomen, back, or chest. Sometimes a bruise that appears for no apparent reason can indicate a underlying condition, such as a blood clotting problem.
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