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Bruises (cont.)

Bruises Symptoms and Signs

  • Initially, a fresh bruise may actually be reddish. It will then turn blue or dark purple within a few hours, then yellow or green after a few days as it heals.
  • A bruise is commonly tender and sometimes even painful for the first few days, but the pain usually goes away as the color fades.
  • Because the skin is not broken in a bruise as with a scrape or cut there is little risk of infection.
  • Repeated bruising of an area can leave permanent yellowish-brown staining from iron depositing in the skin.

When to Seek Medical Care for a Bruise

  • Call the doctor if the bruise is accompanied by swelling and extreme pain.
  • Call the doctor if one is taking a blood-thinning medication for a medical condition and notices significant bruising.
  • Call the doctor if bruises occur easily or if bruises appear for no reason.
  • Call the doctor if the bruise is painful and under a toenail or fingernail.
  • Call the doctor if a bruise does not improve within two weeks or fails to completely clear after three or four weeks, or if a bruise won't go away.
  • Go to the hospital's emergency department if one thinks he/she has a broken bone along with the bruise.
  • Some bruises, such as those on the head or the eye, can cause a lot of anxiety.
    • If a bruise or hematoma occurs on the head (sometimes called a "goose egg"), but the person did not black out, is able to remember the accident, is not on blood thinners, and does not have dizziness, nausea, or vomiting, then it may not be a serious head injury. On the other hand, if the person cannot remember what happened, a concussion is suspected, or if there are any concerns about the injury, he or she should be taken to the nearest emergency department.
    • If a bruise occurs on the face just above the eye, one can expect the bruise to travel to the area just under the eye, possibly causing a black eye, because of the effects of gravity. As long as someone is able to move the affected eye in all directions and does not have vision changes or a headache, it may not be a serious injury that requires a visit to the hospital. If there are any concerns about injury to the eye, see a doctor.

Diagnosis of Bruises

If an injury is obviously a bruise and the doctor does not suspect any broken bones, the doctor will probably not perform any tests.

  • If there is swelling or severe pain, the doctor may get an X-ray of the area to make sure there are no broken bones.
  • If bruising occurs frequently and for no apparent reason, the doctor may have blood tested to look for a bleeding disorder.
  • Certain bruises, a pattern of bruises over time and in various stages of healing may alert a doctor to the possibility of physical abuse.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/1/2015

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