Bruises, also known as contusions, occur when blood vessels under the skin’s surface break. The dark appearance is the result of red blood cells that have leaked from broken capillaries or small blood vessels. Bruising can happen from any type of injury and almost all people get a bruise occasionally. But some people tend to bruise more easily than others. The tendency to bruise easily is usually not medically concerning. However, if you have suddenly noticed that you are bruising easily or if there doesn’t seem to be an explanation for the bruising, you should talk to your doctor.
Reasons why you might bruise easily include:
As you age, especially for women past menopause, your skin loses collagen and fatty tissue which can help to cushion your skin from bumps. The walls of your capillaries – small branches of blood vessels – can also weaken with age. This means that a light bump that might not have caused any injury in past years now causes a bruise.
Some blood disorders that decrease your blood’s clotting ability can cause bruising. These include immune thrombocytopenia purpura, hemophilia, Von Willebrand disease and leukemia, according to a report in the Archives of Disease in Childhood. These disorders usually cause other symptoms, as well, so the appearance of bruises alone do not necessarily indicate the presence of a blood disorder. However, consistent bruising without an apparent cause should be discussed with your doctor.
Some medications, such as aspirin, steroids, anticoagulants and anti-platelet agents can reduce blood clotting and increase your risk of bruising. Other medications and supplements that might increase your risk of bruising include antibiotics, antidepressants, vitamin E, ginger and ginkgo, according to researchers at University of Utah Health.
Overexposure to the sun
Sun exposure can damage your skin and cause it to lose its resilience and elasticity, which can make you more prone to bruising. Actinic purpura is a type of bruising usually found in older adults who have had many years of sun exposure. These bruises usually occur on the back of your hands and arms, starting out purple and slowly fading. According to the American Osteopathic College of Dermatology, they are caused by the weakened state of blood vessel walls.
Bruising easily might not have any cause other than that you’re genetically disposed to it. If you are female, you probably bruise more easily than your male counterparts do. If your parents bruised easily, then you might, too. A tendency to bruise easily sometimes runs in families, according to the University of Michigan’s C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital.
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Eileen Bailey is a freelance health writer. She is the author of What Went Right: Reframe Your Thinking for a Happier Now, Idiot’s Guide to Adult ADHD, Idiot’s Guide to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Essential Guide to Overcoming Obsessive Love, and Essential Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome. She can be found on Twitter @eileenmbailey and on Facebook at eileenmbailey.