When does easy bruising indicate a more serious problem?

Easy bruising sometimes indicates a serious underlying condition, such as a blood-clotting problem or a blood disease. See your doctor if you:

  • Have frequent, large bruises, especially if your bruises appear on your trunk, back or face, or seem to develop for no known reasons
  • Have easy bruising and a history of significant bleeding, such as during a surgical procedure
  • Suddenly begin bruising, especially if you recently started a new medication
  • Have a family history of easy bruising or bleeding

These signs and symptoms can indicate:

  • Low levels of the blood components that help it clot after injury (platelets)
  • Abnormally functioning platelets
  • Problems with proteins that help the blood clot

To find the cause of your bruising, your doctor might check your blood platelet levels or do tests that measure the time it takes your blood to clot.

Other serious causes of bruising include domestic violence or abuse. If a loved one has an unexplainable bruise, particularly in an unusual location such as on the face, be aware of the possibility of abuse.

How can I prevent or treat bruises?

To prevent minor bruising, take steps to avoiding falling:

  • Use good lighting in your home.
  • Avoid clutter and throw rugs, especially on stairs.
  • Arrange furniture and electrical cords so that they're not in your way when you walk.
  • Find out about the side effects of medications you take. Tell your doctor or pharmacist if a medication makes you dizzy or sleepy.
  • Have your vision and hearing tested. Even small changes in sight or hearing can cause you to fall.

Unfortunately, once a bruise has formed, not much can be done to treat it. Most bruises eventually disappear as your body reabsorbs the blood, although healing might take longer as you age. It might help to elevate the affected area and apply ice.

March 04, 2017 See more In-depth