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What Do The Different Bruise Colors Mean

What Are Bruises And What Do The Different Bruise Colors Mean? 

Our skin is the largest organ in our body, made up of water, fat, protein, and blood. It is a shield that protects us from germs and regulates our body temperature. Playing an essential role in our body, the skin defines us and protects us from the inside out, so it needs to be healthy and needs the most care. 

As important as it is for us, it can also cause dangerous skin diseases like acne, skin rashes, bruises, and most severe of all, skin cancer. 

That’s why it is strictly advised by dermatologists and healthcare experts to never take your skin for granted because it can result in intense diseases and health issues. 

Likewise, yellow patches on the skin called bruises are one of the skin issues a person can get from serious injuries. 

In this blog, you’ll learn about bruises and different colors, stages, and when to see a doctor.

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What Does The Term Bruising Mean? 

Everyone has once in their life had bruises and everyone knows what it looks and feels like, but knowing what’s going on inside the skin is more important for your safety. 

Bruises form when the soft tissues under your skin experience a mild injury, breaking the small veins under your skin, which causes the leakage of red blood cells. The cells stay within the damaged tissue that turns your skin into a blue, yellow, red, or purple spot, which is called a bruise. The size and color of the bruise determine its seriousness of it. 

It basically occurs when a person falls, bumps into something, or gets hit hard by something, which causes the blood vessels under the skin to burst and form a bruise; while a bruise heals it usually changes its colors naturally. 

What Are The Types Of Bruises?

People do not understand the severity of a bruise and how injurious it can be for a person. Here are the types of bruises a person can face: 

Hematoma  Bruise 

Hematoma is caused by a serious skin trauma you might get in a car accident or a major fall which can turn into a bruise, seriously damaging your tissues. In hematoma, the blood is collected outside the blood vessels, causing pain and swelling around the area. 

Purpura  Bruise 

In this bruise, a person will face minor bleeding that happens under the skin making the bruised area turn blue, while also causing pain.

Petechiae  Bruise 

These are the small red or purple spots hardly 2mm that appear on the skin. These small bruises happen when it bleeds under the skin or mucous membranes. 

They are not itchy but they can be caused by fungal or viral infections, which can be dangerous. 

Senile purpura Bruise 

These bruises are mostly found in adults and it is also called actinic purpura. As we age, our skin becomes thinner and dryer which can easily cause injury to the skin and results in bruising. Because the blood vessels become more delicate it gets easier to get bruises from minor trauma. 

Black eye Bruise 

A black eye usually happens when a person gets hit on the eye or near the eye. Due to the blood and fluids under the eye, a discolored ring is seen around the eye causing swelling and bruising.

Bruise Color Stages

The age of a bruise is estimated by the change in its color. Stages of bruise colors will tell you the healing extent of your bruise. People usually question how to heal a bruise and yes there are ways to heal a bruise, but it will go through all its bruise color stages to reach the point when it is fully healed. 

The natural healing process of a bruise starts when the hemoglobin or compounds are broken down and the red blood cells start to reach the injured area which causes changes in the color of a bruise. 

Here are the stages of bruise colors:

Red Bruise 

The first stage of the bruise color is a red mark on the skin as the injury causes the fresh oxygen-rich blood to pool under the injured area. 

Blue, purple or black Bruises   

When a bruise passes 1 to 2 days, the fresh blood which was pooled under the blood starts to lose its oxygen which causes a change in the color of a bruise. The color could be blue, purple, or black as it depending on the size, severity, and location of a bruise.

Yellow or Green Bruise

After 5 to 10 days of the initial trauma, your bruise will change in color to yellow or green. A frequently asked question by everyone is: 

“Why is my bruise yellow?”. 

And the answer to this question is when the body breaks down the hemoglobin, it releases compounds called biliverdin and bilirubin, which cause the change in the color of your bruise. 

Yellowish-brown or Light brown Bruise

You will reach the final stage of your bruise after 10 to 14 days and your bruise will change its color to yellowish-brown or light brown which means your bruise is about to fade.

Once the bruise turns its color light brown it will begin to fade and most of the time a bruise disappears, and the injury is healed without any treatment within two weeks. 

How Long Does a Bruise Last? 

Bruises are the most common injury but they can get worse if the injury is severe. The severity of the injury can last the bruise for a longer time and it changes colors accordingly. Because the tissues are damaged underneath a bruise, it takes around 10 to 15 days to heal properly. 

After the underneath tissues are healed with an appropriate blood flow, the bruise will change its color to light brown which means your bruise has reached the final stage of healing and it will fade soon. 

What Are The Symptoms Of A Bruise? 

A bruise only appears on your body when it is hit hard or injured by something or in some dangerous accident. 

Some of the early symptoms of a bruise are:

  • You will feel swelling in the wounded area and it will start changing your skin color
  • You will notice discoloration on your injured area that starts with red color and with time the color of your bruise will change as it is the natural part of a healing process
  • The initial skin trauma will cause you pain for a few days but it will end as the color of the bruise fades 
  • You will feel tightness in the affected area or muscle 

Causes of a Bruise 

One of the main factors to get a bruise is getting hit by something or when something bumps into you. A few more causes to get a bruise are: 

  • Bruises are usually seen on the bodies of athletes or weightlifters. Because they exercise energetically which results in microscopic tears under the skin in the blood vessels. 
  • Bruises can also occur from bleeding disorders like nose bleeds or gum bleeds
  • As people age, their skin gets thinner and dryer and the tissues that support the blood vessels get weaker which can cause the usual bruise on their skin 
  • Another common cause of a bruise can be taking medicine to thin the blood 

How Do You Know When A Bruise Is Serious? 

Bruises usually do not cause any serious harm or seriousness and they can heal without any medical treatment at home. 

But at some point, a bruise can get severe and needs medical attention. 

Here are some of the points to know when a bruise is serious:

  • When the affected area is numb, it can be the arm or leg or the place where the bruise appeared 
  • Loss in the functionality of the joint, muscle, or limb 
  • When the bruise keeps on growing 
  • Bruise does not last more than two weeks but if it does, see a doctor immediately
  • If the bruise is near the bone
  • If you see a bruise on your abdomen, head, or any other internal organ then you need to seek medical care

How To Make A Bruise Go Away From Home Remedies

People usually look for a fast healing process, and if you treat the bruise in the initial stage when it is red, it works more effectively way.

Here are some home remedies used to treat your bruise: 

  • As soon as you have the injury, wrap your body around a cold pack or a bag of ice. Applying cold compression can help in keeping the amount of your bruise and the swelling small as it slows down the blood flow to the wounded area. Apply cold compress 2 to 3 times for at least 15 to 20 minutes for the first two days. 
  • If the bruise is on a larger area like a leg or arm and it is causing pain then avoid movement as much as you can for at least 24 hours because it can get worse.
  • Loosely wrap the area of bruising with an elastic bandage if you see heavy swelling on the injured area. 
  • Acetaminophen is a pain killer usually recommended by doctors for reducing the pain of a bruise. Do consult your doctor before taking such medicines. 

How Can I Prevent Bruising? 

  • Wear protective gear when playing a sport or riding a bike because you might bump yourself which can cause bruising. 
  • Try to place your furniture away from the common walking path
  • Keep your floors dry and make sure that your home rugs are slip-resistant. 
  • If you are on blood thinning medication then keep a check on yourself and change your medicines if felt necessary. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Here are some questions that are mostly asked by people related to bruising.

How do you know when a bruise is serious?

If you are facing these issues, it means your bruise is getting serious and needs medical treatment.

  • Numbness in the injured area
  • Abnormal bleeding in the gum, from the nose, or blood in the urine or stool
  • A larger bruise that harshly pains 
  • Loss in the function of joints or muscles 

What happens when you get a bruise?

A bruise can damage your internal issues under the skin and the small veins and capillaries break, it leaks the red blood cells from the blood vessels and it gets collected on the injured area. That’s why you see a red bruise in the initial stage. 

What body parts bruise the easiest?

Where the skin is sensitive and thinner, it is easier to get a bruise on these parts of the body, but sometimes the bone or muscle damage can cause serious bruises too. 

The eye area bruises the easiest because it is the most sensitive part of our body. 

Is a bruise a blood clot?

A blood clot and a bruise are two different things. Although they both affect the blood vessels, they are still different from each other. Bruises fade over time, but blood clots remain inside the blood vessels or tissues.

Bruise like spots on skin that aren’t bruises

Purpura causes bruises like spots on skin that aren’t bruises. This happens when blood vessels under your skin leak and spots appear on your skin. These purpura marks that look like bruises but don’t hurt.

– Disclaimer –
This blog is for informational & educational purposes only, and does not intend to substitute any professional medical advice or consultation. For any health related concerns, please consult with your physician, or call 911.

Medically Reviewed

Last reviewed by Dr. Syra Hanif, M.D. on 10/31/2022

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  • About The Author

    Dr. Syra Hanif M.D.

    Board Certified Primary Care Physician

Dr. Syra Hanif is a board-certified Primary Care Physician (PCP) dedicated to providing compassionate, patient-centered healthcare.

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