Bruising is one of the most common skin conditions we experience as a population. It can affect anyone at any time and is most often caused by direct impact to an area of the skin, leaving behind the telltale sign of the infamous black and blue.
Although most bruises do not require a trip to urgent care, there are some instances where you should seek advice from a medical professional who can provide a prompt diagnosis and advanced treatment options to meet your specific health needs.
Easy bruising can happen; knowing when to visit urgent care for it is imperative to your health.
What is bruising?
Bruising, or ecchymosis, is a common skin injury resulting in skin discoloration and other minor symptoms. Bruises can appear on any part of the body but are most often found on the arms, legs, hands or feet.
A majority of bruises are caused by a direct injury from impact with an object or person. During the minor accident, blood vessels become damaged, resulting in blood collecting near the skin’s surface. This results in the black and blue mark you notice on your skin.
The most common symptom of a bruise is skin discoloration.
Bruises often start as a reddish mark on the affected area of skin. After a few hours, the area turns blue or black and changes color throughout the healing process, going from brown to yellow until they disappear entirely.
Other symptoms include:
Because symptoms are often minimal, treatment can be performed at home and involves icing the affected area, elevation, rest and compression.
What causes easy bruising?
Bruising is common and affects everyone throughout their lifetime. While infrequent bruising is common, easy bruising is less common.
If you notice that you bruise easily, various reasons may be linked to your black and blue marks. The most common reasons for easy bruising include:
- Heavy weightlifting
- Vigorous exercise
- Thinning skin
- Sun damage
- Alcohol use and addiction
In rare cases, bruises may be caused by a more serious, underlying health condition.
Three reasons to visit urgent care for bruises
1. If you have an underlying health condition linked to bruises
Although bruising is usually not something to worry too much about, there may be instances where medical attention is needed, especially if you are currently living with an underlying health condition that can cause easy bruising or severe symptoms.
Some of the most common health-related conditions include:
- Vitamin deficiencies (D, C, K, or B12)
- Blood disorders such as Von Willebrand Disease or hemophilia
- Blood clotting disorders
- Platelet function defects
- Cushing’s Syndrome
- Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS)
- Aplastic anemia
2. If your symptoms worsen over time.
Although symptoms like pain, swelling and tenderness are common hours to days after a bruise arises, they should not worsen over time. If you notice a change in your symptoms or are struggling to maintain daily tasks due to your bruise pain, the location or size of your bruise, or other symptoms associated with it, you should seek treatment to determine what is causing the symptoms to worsen.
Being proactive in recognizing your symptoms and seeking treatment will help get you the pain relief you need sooner.
3. If your bruises do not improve or disappear promptly.
Bruises typically take 2-3 weeks to fade and up to 4 weeks to fully heal. If your bruises last longer than a month, you should visit urgent care or your primary care physician for further evaluation.
Although the cause of the bruise may be innocent, the delayed healing process may indicate an underlying health issue that needs to be addressed.
Aside from underlying health conditions or other factors, frequent bruising may be a sign of domestic violence, elder abuse or child abuse. If you believe someone you love is experiencing abuse, contact your local public safety officials today.
State Urgent Care is open daily for all your urgent care needs; simply walk in to receive comprehensive and compassionate treatment for bruises. Your health matters to us; don’t delay care.