Causes of unexplained bruising and when you should see your doctor
Bruises can often appear on our skin and sometimes we can forget what has caused them. Some people, such as the very young or the very old, are more susceptible to bruising, meaning that contusions are a common occurrence. In this page, our muscle and joint expert Earle Logan explores the possible causes of unexplained bruises and recommends when you should seek out your doctor.
An introduction to unexplained bruises
Bruises are small collections of blood in the tissues just under the skin. They result from injury or trauma causing damage to the small blood vessels lying close to the surface of the skin. Blood leaks out and spreads through the surrounding tissue.
Bruises appear initially as dark red patches and as they resolve, become purple, green or yellow in colour. If enough blood accumulates, bruises may also be associated with swelling under the skin.
We often injure ourselves without being aware of the incident and because of this, unexplained bruising is very common. Even a small knock can cause a little internal bleeding and a bruise, and when repeated, may result in bruises that we can’t even remember the cause of, especially if one is particularly active.
Unexplained bruising may also be described by people as bruising easily.
Should I worry about unexplained bruising?
In most cases, unexplained bruising does not represent a health problem.
Children and elderly people bruise more easily and hence it is a very common issue in these age groups. Also, women bruise more easily than men.
Some people are just more prone to bumps then others, picking up bruises easily, many of which are unexplained. This is particularly so when one is busy or stressed or simply rushing around.
In certain circumstances, unexplained bruising can indicate an underlying health condition, some of which may be serious. Examples of diseases which might cause unexplained bruising include:
- Blood clotting disorders
- Vitamin deficiencies
- Graves' disease
When to see your doctor
Most cases of unexplained bruising should not give rise to any cause for concern. However, if you are worried about your health in any way, you should seek the advice of your doctor.
In addition, it is important that you see your doctor urgently if you experience:
- Multiple unexplained bruises on your body
- Bruising more easily than usual
- Any pain and swelling around the bruised area with an unknown cause
- Any recent blackouts or moments where you can’t remember where you’ve been or what you have done
- Sudden headaches and bruising
- Numbness, especially in the arms or legs.
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