Baffled by Bruises? Understanding the Purples and Blues

Bruises, also referred to as hematomas or contusions, occur when people are hit with something or when they bump into something. This can cause tiny blood vessels under the skin to burst, and tissues to rip. If the skin does not break upon impact, blood will gather under the surface of the skin, creating a bruise.

The colors that a bruise will be are dependent upon the severity of the bruise and can include such colors as light red, red, blue, purple, black, brown and yellow. How sensitive a bruise will be is also dependent upon the severity of the bruise. While some bruises are not sensitive at all, some of them are extremely sensitive to the touch.

A subcutaneous bruise is the least sensitive of any bruises. Subcutaneous bruises occur when blood vessels under the surface of the skin burst, and they only last for one to three days. Some people do not even notice these bruises. These bruises can range in color from light purple to light brown, and they will begin to turn yellow as the blood vessels heal.

Intra-muscular bruises are more painful than subcutaneous bruises, and they last much longer, as well. These bruises occur when there is a hard impact to the body and blood vessels within the muscles burst. Intra-muscular bruises can often be quite larger than subcutaneous bruises, and they are often darker in color, ranging from deep purple to black.

The most serious bruises of the three types are periosteal bruises. These bruises occur when a large amount of blood vessels burst, and when the outer layers of bones become damaged. Some people call these bruises bone bruises, and they are the most sensitive of any type, often lasting for several weeks. Periosteal bruises also range in color from deep purple to black.

Typically, bruises will heal themselves and do not require any specialized treatment. However, in some cases, such as with periosteal bruises, people may want to get an x-ray to make sure there are no bone fractures. Sometimes the blood may clot, as well, and doctors will recommend taking aspirin to help break the clot up. Mild pain relievers may help relieve any pain from the bruise, as well.

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