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Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Bruising 101

If you’ve ever said a few choice words to your bedpost after a not-so-lovely run-in that left a mark on your thigh, you have contributed to the very high statistic of people who attain bruises from their furniture. Although bruises are not pretty, they are a sign of blood vessels and skin cells recuperating after a bedpost bump-in or even heavy trauma.

What are bruises? 
A bruise, also known as a contusion, is a collection of damaged blood vessels that surface beneath the skin. It can appear red, black, blue, purple or yellow in color. Don’t let these colors alarm you, though. A change in color can be an indication of healing, and as the color changes the bruise should get less sensitive.

What causes bruises? 
Bruises are caused by a multitude of things. Most of the time when you think of a bruise, you think of a child who falls on a playground or an elderly person who has very sensitive skin and develops bruises easily. What you might not know is that athletes, weightlifters, frequent gym users and all you Crossfit addicts out there are more susceptible to bruising because of the microscopic tears that take place in your blood vessels under your skin during rigorous exercise. We’re not saying you should stop the exercise. Just beware that your healthy daily routine may be causing some of that unexplained bruising that develops later on throughout your day.

A vitamin C deficiency can also leave your skin more susceptible to bruising. If you want to prevent the potential bruises, eat a well-balanced diet rich in vitamins and minerals. It will do wonders for your skin. 

Should I be concerned about bruises? 
In general, bruising should not be alarming unless you experience:
- Unexplained bruising
- Bruising accompanied by swelling and extreme pain
- Bruising underneath a fingernail or toenail where you may suspect a broken bone
- Bruising caused by a heavy impact that may lead to a hematoma

In these cases, you should contact your doctor for proper medical care. Regardless of what kind of bruise you have, the good news is that most bruises don’t carry the same risk of infection as a cut or a scrape that breaks the skin.

What about black eyes? 
Fun fact about black eyes: most black eyes occur because of an impact that occurs right ABOVE the eye, not below it. The bruise appears below the eye because of gravity, which makes the blood vessels travel to the area just under the eye. This causes discoloration above and below the eye.

Although bruises aren’t pretty and bumping into furniture is not on your weekly to-do list, it is pretty amazing how the human body can heal itself through the bruising process.

Have any questions about bruising that we didn’t address here? Leave them in the comments and we’ll try to answer them there.

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