Bruises are broken blood vessels under the skin. In areas where the skin is thin, like around the eyes, the bruise will show up more. Bruises on the head or shin tend to swell the most because the bones in these areas are very close to the skin.

Skin Rashes

Signs & Symptoms

•  Black and blue or red skin. As it heals, the skin turns greenish-yellow.

•  Pain or tenderness

•  Possible swelling

•  A bruise usually lasts less than 2 weeks.

Causes, Risk Factors & Care

Bruises are common. Most often, they occur after a fall or being hit by some force. They can, though, occur for no apparent reason. The risk of getting bruises increases with:

•  Taking certain medications, such as aspirin, blood thinners, corticosteroids, water pills, and drugs for arthritis

•  Being female, middle aged, or elderly

•  Being an alcoholic or drug user

•  Having certain medical conditions. Examples are anemia, a blood platelet disorder, liver disease, and lupus.

Most small bruises need no treatment and will go away on their own. For some larger bruises, especially if there is pain or swelling, self-care can help. If bruises result from a medical condition, the medical condition needs to be treated.


•  Apply a cold pack to the bruised area within 15 minutes of the injury. Keep the cold pack on for 10 minutes at a time. Apply pressure to the cold pack. Take it off for 30 to 60 minutes. Repeat several times for 2 days.

•  Rest the bruised area.

•  Raise the bruised area above the level of the heart, if practical.

•  Two days after the injury, use warm compresses. Do this for 20 minutes at a time.

•  Do not bandage a bruise.

When to Seek Medical Care

Contact Doctor When:

•  You have any of these problems with a bruise:

– Vision problems with a bruise near the eye

– Signs of infection (fever; increased pain; redness, and/or swelling; pus)

– Nosebleeds or excessive bleeding from cuts

– Loss of weight and appetite

– Joint pain, fever, or swollen lymph nodes

•  You have any of these problems:

– Bruising on the hip after a fall

– Bruises appear often and easily.

– Bruises take longer than 2 weeks to go away.

– Over a year’s time, more than 2 or 3 bruises appear for no apparent reason.

This website is not meant to substitute for expert medical advice or treatment. Follow your doctor’s or health care provider’s advice if it differs from what is given in this guide.


The American Institute for Preventive Medicine (AIPM) is not responsible for the availability or content of external sites, nor does AIPM endorse them. Also, it is the responsibility of the user to examine the copyright and licensing restrictions of external pages and to secure all necessary permission.


The content on this website is proprietary. You may not modify, copy, reproduce, republish, upload, post, transmit, or distribute, in any manner, the material on the website without the written permission of AIPM.