Bruises, also called contusions, are the result of trauma to your skin. Traumas can either be caused by a cut or a direct blow. Most of the time, when you receive a blow to your skin strong enough to make a bruise, you notice it, even if the bruise doesn’t form right away. These traumas can cause superficial or deep bruising, depending on the severity of the accident or injury.
When most people think of a bruise, they think of the black and blue marks left on their skin. The capillaries cause these black and blue marks just beneath the skin that burst during the trauma. When capillaries burst, the blood gets trapped below the skin’s surface and causes those black and blue marks.
Bruises are very common, and almost everyone has had bruises multiple times from childhood to adulthood. Some cause no pain, and you may not even notice them, while others can be very tender and painful to the touch. Severe bruising requires medical attention, while superficial bruising can be treated at home. The usual goal of self-care is to lessen the visibility of the black and blue area — in other words, treating the bruise purely for cosmetic purposes.
Types of Bruises
There are three different types of bruising, depending on their depth in your body:
- Subcutaneous: These are the most common form of bruises. They occur just under the skin.
- Intramuscular: These bruises can be painful because they occur within your muscles.
- Periosteal: The deepest of all bruises, these occur on your bones.
As bruises — especially deeper ones — heal, they may change to different colors. You can see bruises that are red, green, purple, brown, and yellow. Bruises are commonly yellow when healing. As they heal, your symptoms of tenderness should improve as well.
Sometimes, bruising can be a secondary symptom of a more serious condition. Signs that something more serious is occurring — and that you should seek medical attention immediately — include:
- Bruising without injury, especially if it happens more than once
- Serious or reoccurring bruising in a pattern or on the same area of your body
- Lots of little bruises
- Bruising that doesn’t heal after a month
- Bruising while taking blood thinners or aspirin
- Bruising with blood in your urine or stool
- Bruising when your gums or mouth is bleeding
- Severe bruising after a fall or hard blow
- Severe bruising in your abdomen
- Black bruises on your legs — which can indicate deep vein thrombosis, a life-threatening condition
Your dermatologist in NYC can help you determine the cause of your bruising. Discuss your bruise treatment options with a medical professional if your bruise doesn’t heal by itself. There are several ways your dermatologist can help you.
Medical Treatment Options
With many treatments, results vary depending on your diet and health before the injury. Only laser bruise treatments are in-office procedures; the rest can be done at home as directed by your Manhattan dermatologist.
Additionally, none of these bruise treatments require any preparation, and there’s no recovery time from the bruise treatments themselves — just the healing time of your bruises. Most treatments correct a dietary deficiency or deliver a physical recommendation that can speed up your recovery process with few to no side effects or risks:
- Iron Supplements: Bruising easily can be caused by a lack of iron in your diet. Women especially are prone to iron deficiency, which can worsen during the menstrual cycle. Eating more iron-rich foods — such as red meat and dark leafy greens like spinach — can help prevent and improve bruising.
- Compression: Soon after you’ve experienced a bruise caused by a blow, wrap the area tightly to decrease the amount of overall bruising. Compression prevents the subcutaneous blood from spreading.
- Ice: The cold reduces swelling and improves the tenderness of your bruise, but it won’t remove any discoloration.
- Arnica: A natural product, arnica is derived from a plant of the daisy family. It’s a common home remedy for bruises. It comes in the form of a lotion or gel that can be applied directly to the bruise. It also comes in the form of an oral supplement.
- Vitamin C Supplements: If you bruise easily or have intense bruises resulting from an injury, taking vitamin C supplements may help. Also include foods high in vitamin C in your diets — such as citrus fruits, red peppers, and kale.
- Vitamin K Cream: These creams work by clotting the blood or pulling proteins together to improve the overall appearance. There are no side effects, and it can effectively reduce the number of skin imperfections. Your dermatologist in NYC can prescribe vitamin K creams that are much stronger and more effective than the over-the-counter options.
- Bromelain: A naturally occurring enzyme in pineapples, bromelain has strong anti-inflammatory properties and is commonly recommended to treat bruises. In bruises, it breaks down proteins that trap the blood and other fluids. Bromelain can be taken in pill form as a supplement.
- Laser and Light Treatment: Your dermatologist may decide that treating your bruising with a laser is the best option. There is no preparation needed for laser treatments. The laser breaks up the blood and fluid buildup causing your discoloration. Typically, only a couple of treatments are needed. There is little to no pain in receiving laser treatments for your bruising. And you won’t need any recovery time. In fact, laser treatment reduces the recovery time of your bruises. Your New York City dermatologist can determine if laser treatment is the best option for you. Sometimes, laser treatments for bruising are used alongside other treatments that cause bruising, such as injections.
Unless otherwise stated, none of the above treatments have side effects besides the rare occasion when your body doesn’t react well to the bruise treatment. Your dermatologist reviews all treatment recommendations with you thoroughly and checks that you aren’t taking any medications that could complicate your health or recovery.
Important Reminder: This information is only intended to provide guidance, not definitive medical advice. Please consult dermatologist NYC about your specific condition. Only a trained, experienced board-certified dermatology doctor or pediatric dermatologist can determine an accurate diagnosis and proper treatment.
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