Can the Color of a Bruise Denote Its Severity Or Age?

Any person, be it a restless kid or a responsible adult, is bound to get at least a bruise once in a while. It ‘s inevitable. And for those people who bruise easily, that once in a while might as well be all the time. But can we tell the severity of a bruise just by looking at its color?

When you get hit, a bruise may appear kind of reddening at first, but in time in can take on many different colors. Bruising occurs when small blood vessels under the skin rupture or tear. The blood that flows out of these small vessels becomes trapped in a pool under the skin, and cannot return to normal circulation. Bruises are usually caused by a bump or fall, but they tend to heal o their own. Older adults in particular bruise very easily, and often don ‘t even remember or notice what caused the bruise. But even though they look bad, bruises are not a major health problem.

You cannot tell the severity of a bruise just by its color, however you can determine when it occurred. In the first few minutes the bruise is generally red or pink, as blood collects beneath the skin. Then, within a few hours, the layer of trapped blood takes on the typical black and blue shades. Throughout the next two to four weeks, the bruise slowly goes away. As it heals, the body beaks the trapped blood down to its components, and then recycles them. The various compounds in the blood have different colors, consequently, so do the compounds into which it breaks down. During the process of healing, various compounds and breakdown products show through the skin.

You can tell the age of the bruise judging by its color, which denotes the stage of healing. Generally, dark black, blue or purple colors of a new bruise gradually fade, and are replaced by a succession of colors. Violet turns into green or dark yellow, which gradually fades into light yellow, and then disappears.

However, in some cases a bruise does not heal on its own. Instead of breaking down the trapped blood, the body walls it off and forms a firm swelling between the skin and the muscle. This swelling is called a hematoma, and can sometimes be painful, and if it does not go away on its own it might need to be drained by a doctor.