A discoloured area of skin caused by bleeding in underlying tissues

  • Most common in children and elderly people
  • Gender, genetics, and lifestyle are not significant factors

If the blood vessels beneath the skin are damaged by a blow or a fall, blood may leak into the surrounding tissues. This internal bleeding, even if it occurs deep in a muscle, will eventually show through the surface of the skin as black or blue patches called bruises. Over a period of a few days after the injury, the red cells in the leaked blood break down and the bruises gradually change colour, fading to green, light brown, or yellow. The discoloration normally disappears completely within a week.

After receiving an injury, you can reduce blood loss beneath the skin by applying firm pressure to the area with an ice pack. You should maintain the pressure for at least 5 minutes.

Children and elderly people bruise more easily than young and middle-aged adults. If severe bruising appears for no obvious reason at any age, you should consult your doctor because it may be a sign of a bleeding disorder such as Von Willebrand’s disease.

Bruising around the elbow

Prominent areas of the body, such as the elbow and knee, are vulnerable to injury and are common sites for bruises.

From the 2010 revision of the Complete Home Medical Guide © Dorling Kindersley Limited.

The subjects, conditions and treatments covered in this encyclopaedia are for information only and may not be covered by your insurance product should you make a claim.

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