Life Cycle of a Bruise; Understanding Bruises

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In a study on The LIFE CYCLE of Bruises in Adults, there where two overwhelming conclusions.  Firstly, that 90% of all bruises will occur on your extremities, being your arms and legs.  The second fact was that one cannot reliably predict the age of a bruise based on it’s colour.

What you can predict from the colour of the bruise, is which stage of healing it is in.  The changing colours of a bruise indicate that the bruise is healing and that it will soon be gone.  A bruise will change colours as it goes through the various chemical processes of healing.

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The Moment of Injury

When you first injure or bump yourself, fresh red blood flows out under the skin.  This blood is bright red because it is full of both iron and oxygen.  The bright blood in a bruise does not stay red for long.  This stage of having a bright red mark may be so brief that it may be gone before you even notice it.  Also if the bruise is quiet deep, by the time the blood rises to the surface skin, it will have already darkened.

Dark Red Bruise – Loosing Oxygen. 

The darkening of a bruise is a natural process.  This darkening of the bruise takes place as the blood under the skin looses it’s oxygen.  This is normally the stage in which people first notice they have a bruise

Dark Purple Bruise – Loosing Iron. 

As the iron in the blood starts to break down in the bruise, the colour will darken further.  This process is a great step, as the break down of iron is the stimulus that your body needs to respond to the injury and trigger the clean up process.  There is no oxygen left in the blood and the red blood cells have also started to die and break down.  These changes all take place as the bruise grows and gets to ‘capacity’. From this moment your bruise will start to heal.

Greenish Edge bruise

This is the first stage and first indication that the bruise is starting to heal.  The red blood cells as they are broken down release hemoglobin.  This is broken down and converted into biliverdin which changes the bruise colour to be greenish around the edges. (Scientific! I know)

Yellowish Edge Bruise

…And biliverdin becomes bilirubin and the break down is complete!  This yellowish stage of the bruise is caused by the presence of bilirubin under the skin.  It is the final colour of the bruise before it disappears.

Bruise Fades Away  

The bruise will eventually fade away.  The blood product will be processed and dispersed as you move your muscles and the lymphatic system drains away the blood.  Bilirubin can also be absorbed into the body and sweated or urinated out.

Heal a Bruise, Quickly 

Now that you understand how a bruise functions, you can help to heal it a lot faster.  Follow this link for 8 ways to HEAL A BRUISE (Quickly).  If you can’t wait that long, here is our ITP guide to COVERING UP bruises with colour matched concealers…

by Meg

Meghan Brewster is a writer and blogger. She is an ITP patient and launched ITP&Me in 2011. She is a coffee lover and a try hard dancer. @meghan_brewster

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