What’s Red and Black and Blue All Over?

February 13, 2012

Health and Fitness, Teaching

We were discussing blood pressure today in Cardio/Health class when a student asked a few questions about bruises.  What are they? Why do they change colors?  How long do they last?  What can you do to get rid of them?  While not exactly on topic as far as blood pressure goes, I thought I’d give a quick overview of bruises here:

What are bruises? – A bruise typically occurs when something strikes the body and does damage to the muscles and connective tissue underneath the skin but doesn’t break the skin itself.  The capillaries near the the surface of the skin rupture and blood leaks out under the skin.  With no place to escape, this blood gets trapped and forms a reddish mark on the surface of the skin.

Why do bruises change color? – A bruise will change color over a period of days as your body is busy fixing the problem and reabsorbing the blood.  The folks at KidsHealth.org layout the following color timeline for a typical bruise:

  • When you first get a bruise, it’s kind of reddish as the blood appears under the skin.
  • Within 1 or 2 days, the hemoglobin (an iron-containing substance that carries oxygen) in the blood changes and your bruise turns bluish-purple or even blackish.
  • After 5 to 10 days, the bruise turns greenish or yellowish.
  • Then, after 10 or 14 days, it turns yellowish-brown or light brown.
  • Finally, after about 2 weeks, your bruise fades away.

What can you do to get rid of a bruise? – There are a few things that you can do to help a bruise heal faster.  First, you can ice it.  Simply applying an ice pack to the bruised area right away will slow the blood flow and therefore reduce the amount of blood that escapes from the ruptures capillaries.  Next, there’s elevation.  If you raise and hold the bruised area up above your heart, less blood will flow towards the bruise and there will be less of a “problem” that your body needs to clean up. Ice and Elevation will also help keep the swelling and the pain to a minimun.

Should I be concerned about a bruise? – Not typically.  However, if your bruise lasts longer than 2 weeks, appears when you haven’t bumped into anything, keeps you from moving a joint, or happens near your eye, you should consult a doctor.


About Mr. Zerwas

Passionate about Family, Health, Fitness, Nutrition and Multimedia - Teaching Video and Broadcasting and Del Oro High School in Loomis, CA

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