Bruises are incredibly common and usually nothing to worry about. Typically, the result of an injury that causes the small blood vessels under the skin to bleed, most bruising, will heal on its own.

That being said, in some cases, bruising can indicate a more serious health problem.

Read on to discover everything you need to know about bruising, including:

  • What are the different types of bruises?
  • Why do I bruise so easily?
  • How to help bruises go away faster
  • When to worry about bruising

What are the different types of bruises?

The most common type of bruise is flat and purple and typically occurs when blood leaks into the top layers of the skin. This bruise is known as an ecchymosis.

Another type of bruise is a black eye, also known as a shiner. This bruise typically occurs when the eye or surrounding area is exposed to some form of trauma.

Finally, a hematoma happens when clotted blood forms a lump underneath your skin. This type of bruise is usually painful and swollen.

Another type of bruising is known as petechiae, which typically manifests as small red or purple dots. These bruises are often one of the main leukemia signs to look out for.

Why do I bruise so easily?

There are several factors that affect how easily you bruise, including your gender, age, and genes. Older people tend to bruise a lot more easily than their younger counterparts, as aging skin is thinner and has lost much of its fatty layers.

Women tend to bruise more easily than men, especially on certain areas of the body, such as the upper arms, buttocks, and thighs.

Bruising can also run in families, so if your parents bruise easily, you are much more likely to as well.

How to help bruises go away faster

Bruises can be unsightly, so if you want to try and get rid of them faster, there are several steps that you can take.

Firstly, when a bruise first appears, or even before you injure yourself, applying a cold compress can be beneficial. This will help to reduce any swelling and can help to shrink the size of a bruise. Ideally, you should leave this on for between 15-20 minutes, take it off for half an hour, and then reapply.

In the days following your injury, keep your injured limb elevated, as this will help to stop the blood from pooling and help to reduce any further swelling. After two days, you can apply a heating pad or warm cloth to the area.  

When to worry about bruising

In some cases, bruising is a sign of a more serious health problem. Most notably, the below conditions can cause spots on the skin that look like bruises:

  • Cancers such as leukemia, Hodgkin's disease, and multiple myeloma
  • Liver disease such as cirrhosis
  • Bleeding disorders such as hemophilia and von Willebrand's disease
  • Thrombocytopenia

If you are experiencing any other symptoms or you have bruises that are not healing on their own, it can be a good idea to make an appointment with your doctor to rule out anything serious.