Bruises might not seem particularly serious but they can be. They’re caused by damage to blood vessels at the surface of the skin and so should be treated with care and attention.
What’s more, if you’re bruising more than usual or more easily, especially if you have other symptoms, it can be the sign of a serious health problem.
Are you bruising more easily?
If your answer is yes, there’s no need to panic. After the age of around 60 the body starts producing less collagen making your skin thinner, and less protective. This means you’ll suffer with more bruises than you’re used to.
If, however, how you bruise has changed dramatically in a short space of time (a couple of months or less) then your bruises could be the result of something more than the normal ageing process. If you still have obvious bruises after two weeks, you should see your GP to find out whether there might be a problem.
Are you doing strenuous exercise?
Bruising can occur without you knocking into something – but it can also happen when you push your body hard. Pain felt after a workout can be the result of muscles working hard causing tiny blood vessels break up just beneath the skin, causing bruising.
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Are you getting enough vitamin C?
It’s not just great for warding off colds, vitamin C also helps prevent bruising. It does this by helping the body produce collagen, which keeps your skin strong.
When your skin is thinner and weaker, the blood vessels which are lying just beneath the surface are far more likely to suffer damage as the result of a knock or bump, causing a bruise.
Other signs of vitamin C deficiency include gingivitis, nosebleeds, fatigue, swollen joints, dry splitting hair and more vulnerability to fight infections. It’s also important to get enough bioflavonids (rutin and hesperidin, especially) as these help build strong blood capillaries.
Related: Learn more about how vitamin C affects your health
Has your easy bruising come on quickly and frequently?
If the way you bruise has changed dramatically and you can’t explain it, you should see your GP to check whether it’s normal or not.
Haemophilia and leukaemia both cause easier bruising, which is a result of your blood not clotting properly. Cuts and other injuries that break the skin are also likely to heal more slowly and with more difficulty.
Are you taking blood thinners?
Thinning your blood can be an excellent solution for people with heart problems or thickened artery walls, it allows the blood to circulate more freely. It can, however, also make you more prone to bruising. Check with your GP if you are concerned about any medication you are taking or related symptoms.
Are your bruises concentrated around your ankles?
If your ankles look like they’re peppered with bruises, often with a purple or orange tinge to them, you could have purpuric dermatosis. This is a skin condition caused by damage to your blood vessels. See your GP if you are seeing a lot of differently-coloured bruising in your lower legs.
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