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Unexplained Bruising

Bruising is the body's natural way of responding to local trauma or damage. But if the cause or reason of bruising cannot be recollected, and the frequency of such bruising is quite high, the cause needs to be diagnosed. As the underlying cause can range from something as obvious as aging to hemophilia and even diabetes.
Batul Nafisa Baxamusa
Last Updated: Mar 19, 2018
An injury or trauma that results in discoloration of the skin is called a bruise. Sometimes an injury might not occur on the surface of the skin, or may not lead to breaking of the skin, rather occur deep within the skin. In such instances the damaged blood vessels cause the skin to turn black and blue. Bruises, also called contusions, heal within 2 to 4 weeks and you may observe the bruise turning black, then reddish-blue, or sometimes even yellowish-green.
Mostly, an individual will remember the incident or cause of bruising but certain instances like banging your arm against the door, or stumbling into a piece of furniture, are often forgotten as they do not cause significant pain. A couple of days later, bruising is noticed on the arm or leg and one tends to forget the cause. Now, such bruising once in while is understandable but if occurs frequently should be investigated thoroughly since it can indicate an underlying medical condition or ailment.
Likely Causes
Of the many causes, diabetes can be one of the hidden culprits. The relation between unexplained bruises and diabetes is a condition called Acanthosis nigricans. In this condition, you may observe patches of brown and black skin that have been accumulated in the body folds and creases, that is, armpits and neck. This is hyper-pigmentation that is caused as the excess insulin spills in the skin due to insulin resistance associated with Type II Diabetes. You should look out for other symptoms like excessive thirst, fatigue, blurred vision, frequent infections, etc. that are tell-tale signs of diabetes.
The other causes include injuries that lead to leakage of blood. This may be due to bumping in the bed post or a slight brush with doors, wall corners, etc. that you may not notice. Also, rigorous exercises can also lead to tear in the blood vessels leading to bruising. During old age, the skin can easily be bruised by minor injuries. The skin becomes thinner and less flexible and the fat under skin decreases. Thus, it causes the skin to be damaged easily due to sun exposure and the blood vessels under the skin rupture easily. Therefore, many elderly often complain of unexplained bruises on arms.
Also, it has been observed that bruises are often observed more on women than men. Women often complain of bruising on legs, thighs, buttocks and upper arms. Thinner people are more prone to bruising as they lack the fat cushion that helps prevent injury. It may also be due to deficiency of vitamin C, vitamin B12, folic acid and vitamin K.
Many times taking medications like aspirin, ibuprofen, non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and even birth control pills increases chances of sudden bruising. Topical and systemic corticosteroids cause skin thinning, making one prone to bruises. Many a time bruising can be caused due to liver ailments, kidney diseases and blood disorders like:
  • Hemophilia
  • Platelet dysfunction
  • Thrombocytopenia
  • Leukemia
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Hodgkin's disease
  • Connective tissue disorders such as scurvy, Marfan's syndrome, and Ehlers-Danlos syndrome
Lupus and sepsis may also be a likely cause that would indicate a serious medical problem. If you experience longer and heavy periods, nosebleed, bleeding gums, you should seek medical help.
Unexplained Bruising Symptoms
The symptoms are pinkish red area like tiny red dots or skin blotches. The bruise may be very small in size and may blend in with the skin color. Or the bruise may be large in size, swollen and painful.
How Long Do Bruises Last on the Body?
The body takes time in absorbing the blood spilled in the surrounding tissues from the broken capillaries. As the blood gets cleared, it results in different colors of the bruise. Thus, the color of the bruise indicates how long it has been on the body. Initially, the bruise is reddish in color as the blood has just begun to appear underneath the skin. After a couple of days, the hemoglobin present in the blood begins to change its color. The bruise, now turns into bluish-purple or blackish shade after 1 to 2 days. After about 5 to 10 days, the bruise may begin to appear slightly yellowish or greenish in color. The bruise further turns yellowish-brown or light brown after about 10 to 14 days. After about 2 to 3 weeks, the bruise fades away completely. However, in some cases, the bruise may last for a month or more than a month.
Treatment Options
When you suffer from general bruising, you need to take rest, apply ice compression within 24 to 48 hours. In case of swollen, unexplained bruises on arms, you can wrap the area with an elastic bandage. Bruises on legs need to be kept in an elevated position to minimize swelling. You can gently massage the area to relieve pain and increase blood flow.
You should eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables and eat a wholesome, balanced diet. Make sure you eat an iron rich diet and include all the essential vitamins and minerals in the food you eat. Unexplained bruising accompanied by unnatural bleeding and a lot of pain and swelling requires immediate medical care.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.