A Few Facts About the Different Types of Bruises

As an architect, I love creating a structure and looking at the building process. Many in my profession like to just sit back in a desk and draw out their design. For me, I am more of a hands on person, I like to go to the construction site and observe and take part in some of the physical building process. This puts me at risk of getting bumps and unexplained bruising during site building participation. I do not mind because it is part of the fun. Here is what I found out about the bruises that I have gotten.

It may be tempting to say a bruise is a bruise is a bruise, but in truth there are several different types of bruises. There are colorful bruises and bruises you can’t even see. There are bruises that hurt and those that don’t. There are bruises that are harmless (most of them) and a few that are not. While they may be painful at times most bruises go away after a time. There are also a few of these different types of bruises which sometimes require emergency medical attention and treatment.

What All Bruises Have in Common

No matter the type of bruise, all bruises have one thing in common, and that is broken blood vessels. A bruise is the result of injury to a tissue. If blood vessels in the tissue break, even very tiny blood vessels, blood will leak out. If the blood has nowhere to go it will pool in the vicinity of the blood vessel’s rupture. If the injury occurs just under the skin you can see where the blood has pooled, and that is what is referred to as a bruise. If the bruise occurs in deep tissue you won’t be able to see it of course, but it is still very much there, and you may feel it.

If you are told you have a contusion or a hematoma it is usually nothing to be concerned about. Those are simply medical terms for a bruise. The medical terms most often tend to be used in the event of a deep bruised, but apply equally to any type of a bruise.

The Three Categories

The medical profession usually places a bruise in one of three different categories. The most frequently experienced category is the subcutaneous bruise, which is the bruise that occurs just beneath the skin. Bruises that occur in deeper soft tissue are called intermuscular bruises. The third, and somewhat less encountered category is the periosteal bruise, a bruise that occurs on the surface of a bone. Periosteal bruises tend to be the most painful and normally take the most time to heal.

The Different Colors

One thing that happens when a bruise occurs is that it takes on a color, and that color usually changes over time. These changes in color can often be alarming, but they are natural and generally harmless. A bruise is initially reddish in color, the color of fresh blood that has not been exposed to the air. The bruise will then turn darker, becoming purplish in color. Next the bruise turns green, and finally, yellow-brown. It is these latter two colors that can be upsetting, but they represent nothing more than while blood cells removing decayed blood products from the bruise site. While your body is going about the process of healing itself, it is doing so in technicolor.

When Swelling Can Cause a Problem

Bruises could also be categorized a being harmless or dangerous. It is the deeper bruises that can become dangerous although most are not. Swelling that accompanies a bruise can sometimes lead to a dangerous situation. This is unlikely when the bruise is on the surface, but when the bruise is an intermuscular bruise and swelling takes place there may be no place for the swelling to go. The swelling could therefore create immense pressure against a part of the anatomy or against a critical organ. If that occurs it can easily become an emergency situation, blockage of the intestinal or urinary tract being just a couple of examples. Deep swelling in a peripheral limb may not be quite so serious unless pressure is being placed against a major nerve or the blood supply to a part of the body is being cut off or disrupted.

While you can’t see a deep bruise to tell if it represents any danger you will no doubt feel it if significant swelling has occurred, or at the very least will be able to tell that something is wrong, and it would be wise to seek medical advice immediately. A bruise may also require medical attention if you experience one but do not recall being hit or injured or if there seems to be excessive pain given the size of the bruise.

Injury is Not the Only Cause

Some people bruise more than others, often as a result of a medical condition. You may also bruise more easily than usual if you are taking certain types of medication, especially blood-thinning medications. Some diseases can also cause bruising. One example is petechiae, which consists of multiple dot-sized bruises that appear just under the skin. Petechiae is often a symptom of a heart or circulatory condition. These numerous, small bruises generally appear on the legs. Certain immune system diseases in which the body attacks its own blood vessels can also cause bruises to form under the skin, bruises which tend to be long-lasting.

In summary, the vast majority of the different types of bruises are harmless, but a few are not. If you have a bruise and don’t know what might have caused it, it is generally a good idea to have it looked into.

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