Bruises (contusions)

Bruises (contusions) occur when small blood vessels under the skin tear or rupture, most often from a twist, bump, or fall. Blood leaks into tissues under the skin and causes a black-and-blue color that often turns colors, including purplish black, reddish blue, or yellowish green, as the bruise heals.

Most bruises are not serious and will go away on their own within 2 to 4 weeks. Sometimes, gravity causes them to spread down the body. A leg bruise usually will take longer to heal than a bruise on the face or arms.

Severe bruising, swelling, and pain that begin within 30 minutes of an injury may mean a more serious injury, such as a severe sprain, dislocation, or fracture.

Sudden unexplained bruising or a sudden increase in the frequency of bruising may be a sign of an abnormal type of bruising that may be caused by medication side effects, a bleeding or clotting disorder, or a medical condition.

Last Updated: May 6, 2009

Author: Jan Nissl, RN, BS

Medical Review: Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & Alexander H. Murray, MD, FRCPC - Dermatology

related physicians

related services

Bon Secours International| Sisters of Bon Secours USA| Bon Secours Health System

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. Privacy Policy. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

© 1995-2010 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.