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Dr Karen Martin
Reviewed by Dr Karen MartinReviewed on 19.10.2023 | 2 minutes read

A bruise (also known by its medical name ecchymosis) happens when there is some bleeding under the skin. Most of the time, a bruise is nothing to worry about. They tend to occur when there is some damage to blood vessels in an area of tissue, and this occurs typically from accidents like bumping your arm or leg or getting hit while playing sports.

Doctor’s advice

Should I be worried about bruising?

People often consult their doctor if they get bruises with no apparent cause. We often bang our shins and lower legs on things without noticing, and a surprisingly small trauma leads to a bruise. Most of the time, we don’t realize it.

If you feel that you have excessive bruising or bruising that continues to occur due to minimal or very light trauma, then you can discuss this with your doctor.

What will your doctor do?

If you feel you have excessive bruising, there are a few lines of inquiry that your doctor will want to think about. Your doctor will want to know whether you have any family history of bleeding disorders, whether you take any regular medications that affect your blood, such as blood thinners or steroid medications, and if you take any medicines over the counter or drink excessive alcohol that could affect your bleeding and clotting.

Your doctor will then consider whether it is necessary to look at blood tests that focus on your clotting systems. If either your doctor feels it is important, or you would feel reassured by having a blood test, a blood test can be arranged to check your body's clotting system.

Is any treatment needed?

In most instances, no treatment is needed for bruises. Providing you remain well, and as long as the trauma that caused it has not caused any other damage, such as broken bones, nothing else is required. It takes about 2 weeks for a bruise to fade, during which time it will change color from red to purple to brown.

If you have a particularly large bruise and become unwell, developing a temperature over 100 degrees, it would be best to see your doctor for review. Occasionally, bruises can become infected and cause further problems, requiring antibiotics alongside other treatments.

Am I fit for work?

You are fit for work if you have a bruise. However, if the nature of your work causes severe pain due to your bruise, or you are client-facing and feel very self-conscious about it, you could negotiate amended duties with your employer until you have recovered and the pain has subsided, or it has faded.

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This article has been written by UK-based doctors and pharmacists, so some advice may not apply to US users and some suggested treatments may not be available. For more information, please see our T&Cs.
Dr Karen Martin
Reviewed by Dr Karen Martin
Reviewed on 19.10.2023
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