Medical Author: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
A bruise is a traumatic injury of the soft tissues that results in breakage of the local capillaries and leakage of red blood cells. In the skin, bruising can be seen as a reddish-purple discoloration that does not blanch when pressed upon. This discoloration leads to the classic "black and blue" appearance. When a bruise fades, it becomes green and brown as the body metabolizes the blood cells and bilirubin pigment in the skin. A bruise can sometimes be associated with a temporary raised area in the skin and is usually associated with some tenderness. A bruise is best treated with local application of a cold pack immediately after injury.
A bruise is medically termed a contusion. Bruises are typically a result of some degree of injury to the blood vessels in the skin. Easy bruising may be a result of a seemingly insignificant compression of skin or there may be no skin injury recollected. Easy bruising can occur when the blood vessels are weakened by diseases (such as scurvy), medications (such as aspirin, prednisone, and prednisolone), and aging. Easy bruising can also occur because of absent or deficient blood-clotting elements. Local leakage of blood into the skin from the capillaries that occurs spontaneously, without injury, and results in a flat, purplish discolored area is referred to as ecchymosis. Ecchymosis is usually not associated with tenderness.
Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.
Pictures, Images, Illustrations & Quizzes
Blood and Bleeding Disorders Quiz
Exactly what is sickle cell anemia? Learn about sickle cell and other diseases by testing your IQ with the Blood and Bleeding...
Leukemia Quiz: Test Your Medical IQ
What do you know about leukemia? Did you know there are different types? What are the symptoms? Take the Leukemia Quiz and test...
Pain-Relief Tips for Bumps, Bruises, Sprains, and Strains in Pictures
View this First Aid slideshow on Care and Pain Relief. See how to get pain relief if you've bumped your head, sprained your...
Causes of Easy Bruising
Amyloidosis is a group of diseases resulting from abnormal deposition of certain proteins (amyloids) in various bodily areas. The...
Approximately 40 million children suffer abuse every year around the world, and more than 1,500 children die of abuse in the U.S....
Childhood Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL)
Childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia is the most common type of cancer in children. Symptoms and signs include fever, easy...
Cirrhosis of the liver refers to a disease in which normal liver cells are replaced by scar tissue caused by alcohol and viral...
Cupping is a type of traditional Chinese medicine that stimulates the flow of chi (qi, or energy) within the body. There are a...
Dengue fever is contracted from the bite of a striped Aedes aegypti mosquito. Symptoms and signs of dengue include headache,...
Domestic violence, or intimate partner abuse, is when one person in an intimate relationship uses any means to control the other...
Hemophilia is defined as one of a group of inherited bleeding disorders. Hemophilia A and hemophilia B are inherited in an...
Leukemia is a type of cancer of the blood cells in which the growth and development of the blood cells are abnormal. Strictly...
Lichen sclerosus is a skin disease that causes white spots to form on the skin, which later grow into large, thin, and crinkled...
Liver (Anatomy and Function)
The liver is the largest gland and organ in the body. There are a variety of liver diseases caused by liver inflammation,...
Liver disease can be cause by a variety of things including infection (hepatitis), diseases such as: gallstones, high...
Marfan syndrome is hereditary (genetic) condition affecting connective tissue. A person with Marfan syndrome may exhibit the...
Other Causes of Easy Bruising
Examples of Medications for Easy Bruising
Subscribe to MedicineNet's Skin Care & Conditions Newsletter