Underneath your skin, a delicate network of blood vessels carries the vital materials necessary to keep your skin healthy and strong. The smallest of these blood vessels are the capillaries, which usually have the thickness of only one cell. These tiny blood vessels help exchange water, nutrients, oxygen and waste from the tissues in your skin.
Due to their small size, the capillaries are very fragile. Trauma of any kind can cause these capillaries to break or to leak, releasing trace amounts of blood beneath the skin. The blood under your skin appears dark purple or red initially and slowly fades to a light gray or yellow as your body gradually reabsorbs the blood. Bruises vary in size, color and healing time based on the severity of the impact and how much of your body is affected by the blow.
Certain people bruise more easily than others or experience more noticeable marks when bruising occurs.
Fair-skinned people do not necessarily bruise more easily, but often suffer from darker, more obvious bruises because there is less pigment present in their skin. This makes the blood more easily visible beneath its surface.
Everyone becomes more susceptible to bruising the older they get. As we age, the capillaries become gradually weaker, making it easier to damage them. In addition, our skin thins naturally as we age, resulting in less of a cushion to protect the capillaries from impact. In some cases, older people may bruise from just slight trauma; some even experience bruising or dark circles under the eyes on a regular basis just from wearing glasses or touching the under eye area.
Anyone taking medications that thin the blood as a side effect, like aspirin, or intentionally to treat a disease or medical condition, like warfarin, is more at risk for bruising. This is because thinner blood requires a smaller opening to leak out into the surrounding tissue than blood that is at its normal consistency.
Some dietary supplements, like fish oil and ginkgo, can also thin the blood and make bruising more likely to occur.
The use of topical corticosteroid creams results in skin thinning and, as a result, an increased risk for bruising.
Surgical procedures, particularly cosmetic surgery, often result in bruising.
Nothing is more unsightly than a large bruise on a noticeable part of your body. The dark black marks that occur with skin bruising are easy to spot and, if severe, can take weeks to completely fade. Although there is not much you can do to prevent a bruise from forming after a bump, fall or other accident, you can take steps to hide and heal your bruises faster.
Caring for your bruise at home is vital to helping it quickly heal. Keep the bruised area elevated whenever possible and apply ice to the injury several times per day for the first 48 hours after the trauma. Elevation helps reduce the amount of blood flow that reaches the injured area, minimizing bruises, while ice causes your capillaries to constrict, reducing how much blood is able to leak out into the surrounding tissue. If the area is swollen, you can use ibuprofen to reduce the inflammation. Avoid taking aspirin when you are treating a bruise.
Parsley has long been used as a home treatment to reduce the appearance of bruises and is believed to help encourage the re-absorption of blood into the body. Treatment with parsley should not begin until 48 hours after the injury once you have stopped icing the affected area. To use parsley to treat your bruise, chop up a half-cup of parsley greens and blend it with 1/3 of a cup of olive oil to create a paste. Use a clean makeup brush or cotton swab to paint the paste onto the bruise and cover with gauze or a loose bandage for approximately one hour before rinsing. Continue the treatment daily until the bruise fades.
Typically, clinical intervention from your physician is not necessary to treat bruises; however, if you frequently notice large, very painful and swollen bruises on your body that do not seem to relate to an injury, see your doctor. In some cases, easy, frequent bruising can be the sign of a serious medical condition.
If you suffered a major fall or accident, it may be wise to seek emergency medical care to ensure that you did not damage any tissue or bones. For widespread bruising, you may be given a prescription pain reliever or anti-inflammatory drug to ease your symptoms.
In most cases, a combination of home care and over-the-counter products are adequate to treat bruises. You can also find effective over-the-counter products to disguise the marks while they heal as well as to strengthen the under eye area if you frequently develop bruises there.
Some skin care brands offer products that are specifically designed to speed up the healing process of bruises to make them fade more quickly. These skin care treatment products often contain arnica, an herb that encourages circulation. By giving your circulation a boost, arnica helps to transport the blood pooled under your skin away from the bruise more quickly. Formulations that contain zinc and copper can also shorten the time required for bruises to heal by speeding up the cellular regeneration process.
A variety of eye products are available to help strengthen the capillaries in the under eye area to prevent bruising. These products are often rich in vitamins, such as vitamin K, which provide the nutrients necessary to strengthen the capillary walls. Glycosides, a combination of a sugar and various other compounds, also provide strength to the capillaries. Horse chestnut extract is a common source of glycosides in under eye creams meant to prevent bruising.
While you're dealing with a healing bruise, particularly on your face, you can rely on cosmetics to help mask the appearance of the injury. If the area around the bruise is still swollen, apply a light colored blush in a shade that is lighter than your normal skin undertones to the border of the bruise. This helps minimize the dramatic contrast between the swollen area and the rest of your face.
You can then apply a concealer over the bruise. If the skin is very red, you may want to opt for a concealer with a green tint to minimize the red or purple color present in the bruised area. Another option is to select a concealer that has a blend of pigments to minimize all types of discoloration. After applying your concealer, finish off with a full coverage foundation applied to your entire complexion and set the whole look with finishing powder. The various layers of cosmetics give the ultimate camouflage to unsightly bruises.