Bruises form when blood cells seep from injured veins or capillaries into surrounding skin tissue. Basically, bruises are bleeding that occurs beneath the skin. Newer bruises usually appear black and blue. As they heal, they may look green and yellow.
Most bruises are caused by a sufficiently hard blow to break blood vessels in the skin and/or deeper tissues (muscles and bone). Some medications, such as anticoagulants and aspirin, can cause people to bruise more easily.
Self-Care Steps for Bruises
- Apply ice and firm pressure to the bruised area as quickly as possible. This helps veins constrict, reducing the flow of blood into the skin tissue and minimizing the bruise.
- Elevate and rest the bruised area.
See a doctor if you notice:
- Sudden increased appearance or multiple bruises
- If your child has bruises and is on anticoagulants or aspirin
- New onset of bruising easily with, or without, minor injuries
- Bruising with severe pain and swelling
Reviewed by Trauma specialists at the Montreal Children’s Hospital.
Last updated: January 2014, October 2015