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What Is a Contusion?
What is a contusion? Well, it's just a medical name for a bruise! A bruise occurs when blood vessels are damaged or broken after the skin takes a hard hit or bump. Blood leaks out of these damaged blood vessels into the surrounding tissues, turning the area purple (as visible from outside the body). A contusion may be painful to the touch because the blood that has pooled under the skin is putting pressure on nearby nerve endings.
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How Common Are Contusions?
Everyone has experienced contusions (bruising) at some point in life; however, they become more common as people age, with the elderly bruising easier than children (be really careful when hugging Grandma!). Blood vessels become more delicate with age, meaning they get damaged or break more easily in older individuals.
Frequent bruising may occur concurrently with certain medications, especially those that interfere with blood clotting, or the body's natural ability to keep a damaged blood vessel from bleeding excessively. Less blood clotting means more blood leaks out of a damaged vessel, producing a larger and more visible contusion!
A contusion changes in appearance over time and may be sensitive or tender to the touch. Initially after forming, a contusion is usually reddish in color, reflecting the color of the blood through the skin. Over time, iron from the blood changes form, and the contusion will develop a blue or purple tint to it. Finally, the contusion will turn a greenish-hue and then a yellow or brown color.
Typically, the body can heal a contusion within 2-3 weeks after the injury occurs. If a contusion does not appear to heal, stays hard to the touch, and continues to be painful, it is best to consult a medical professional as soon as possible to make sure there isn't another problem.
What can you do if you get a contusion? You can apply a cold compress to the area, but it's not recommended to apply ice directly to the skin. The cold reduces blood flow in the area and may limit the amount of bleeding that takes place, potentially lessening the severity of the contusion. It may also be helpful to raise the injured area above the level of the heart (if possible). More blood flows to parts of the body below the heart's level, simply due to gravity. Applying pressure or compression can also be helpful, since it helps to reduce bleeding and swelling around the injury.
Talk with your doctor about which medications you are taking, as they may affect how your body responds to a contusion. If you are taking medication that reduces blood clotting, it's best to talk to your doctor after you injure yourself. The severity of your contusion is affected by your skin tone, the health of the affected tissue, your age, your gender, the location of the injury, the force of the injury, and genetics.
A contusion is the medical term for a bruise. When the body absorbs a hit, fall, or bump, blood vessels may burst, leaking blood into the surrounding tissues. As a result, a colored area forms and may be painful to the touch. Severity of contusions varies with medications, personal health status, and the impact of the injury. Applying pressure or a cold press may help alleviate the severity of a contusion by limited the blood flow in the affected area. When in doubt, contact a medical professional for advice.
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Contusion: Definition, Symptoms & Treatment
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