Brutal Bruises

By Ashley Nguyen


Introduction:

Whether you have been severely beaten up by others or have bumped into a heavy object, you’ve probably experienced bruising many times in your livelihood. We often find ourselves brushing off these minor injuries, but have we considered the pre-existential stages to the cause of our bruises? The coloration of our bruises changes over time as a result of its healing signs or perhaps, a forthcoming sign of severe infections. Bruises can result in many causes that are not underlined by diseases. Most common bruise damages include skin, bone, and muscle bruises (bone being the exception of serious effect). Excessive exercising, unexplained occurrences, falling, and thin skin are some other causes to list.


Bruise Overview

According to WebMD, a bruise is defined as a skin injury that characterizes discoloration and swollen parts of that surrounding area. The external force towards the skin area causes blood cells beneath the skin to collect near the surface, which explains why our bruises look blue and purple. The injury damages small blood vessels resulting in blood leakage underneath our skin. The colorization changes are known to metabolize as the blood cells in the skin are breaking down. During this process, it repairs the damage to its original state. The breakdown of the hemoglobin changes the bruises’ coloration.


Common in Older Adults/Women

Bruising is often common in older adults due to thinning of skin. Most bruises form near the arms or legs and as similar to the process of bruising, it occurs when small vessels or capillaries break, leaking blood to the surface of the skin. In addition, the loss of protective fatty layers can cause older adults to be more vulnerable to blood vessel breakage. Occasional bruises from time to time aren’t as drastically concerning as the constant appearance of easy bruises or frequently bleeding bruises.


Stages of Bruising

If you’ve experienced minor bruises, you’ve probably observed a dark-purple color. If you’ve experienced serious bruises, you’ve probably witnessed them evolve from red to purple, to yellow. The coloration of the bruise and its appearance can determine how old bruises are. Usually, your skin returns to normal after approximately 2-3 weeks, however, more severe damages can increase the time span for recovery. Oftentimes, more severe bruises such as black eyes can result in the color red, the initial stage in which your tissues are flooded with fresh blood. Hours after your skin damage, it evolves to become a blue-ish color, which is where your leaked blood loses oxygen. The color becomes darker and its appearance can become purple or blue. The speed of recovery varies according to injury severity. Typically after 1-3 days, your bruise can become dark purple and often black. This is due to the finalized process of blood cell breakdown and release of iron. Green and yellow are the last stages to healing. This is where the hemoglobin, a protein that contains iron, breaks down to biliverdin! The yellow coloration fades away, allowing your skin to fully recover and your body to clear chemicals from your blood.


Detrimental Effects of Longer Healing

What happens if my bruises don’t go away? Well, that’s a sign for critical concern. Not all bruises heal properly and some may be caused by deposition of calcium surrounding the injury or the formation of hematoma. The process where calcium is deposited is known as myositis ossificans. This condition occurs in larger muscles of the arms or legs and can cause bone tissues to form in soft tissue areas. You can determine whether or not you have myositis ossificans by the pain and tenderness by feeling along with a lump in the muscle. Furthermore, the hematoma formation is where a wall is created under your skin or muscle, which blocks blood flow. In all, bruises can result in detrimental effects.\



What did you learn?

Q: Why should you be mindful about your bruises?

A: If you find yourself being bruised more often than normal, consider seeing your healthcare provider. Though bruises can take months to be completely faded away, most last about two weeks to recover. Serious attention may be required if bruising has not improved at any point or has gotten much worse, after two weeks. This sign can indicate hematoma, a large accumulation of blood due to a wall blockage. Not only that, but overtime complications can cause syndromes such as swelling cuts of blood flow to tissues. It is heavily emphasized for older adults to be more aware as thinning of skin and loss of fatty tissues can allow them to be vulnerable to long-term effects.


Q: What are the common stages to bruising?

A: Depending on how severe your bruises are, the coloration and the speed of recovery vary. Most bruises such as black eyes or athletic injuries begin with the color red as a sign of fresh blood released from your damaged vessels and capillaries. Hours into your injuries, the color evolves to a blue-ish color, which is where your blood starts to lose oxygen. This then results in a dark purple color and overtime, the healing stage, or final stage, becomes present in the form of a green and yellow color..



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