A bruise is an area of skin discoloration. A bruise occurs when small blood vessels break and leak their contents into the soft tissue beneath the skin.
There are three types of bruises:
- Subcutaneous -- beneath the skin
- Intramuscular -- within the belly of the underlying muscle
- Periosteal -- bone bruise
Bruises can last from days to months, with the bone bruise being the most severe and painful.
Bruises are often caused by falls, sports injuries, car accidents, or blows received by other people or objects.
If you take a blood thinner, like aspirin or warfarin (Coumadin), you are likely to bruise more easily.
Review Date: 05/01/2011
Reviewed By: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.