Bruising occurs after traumatic injury and consists of swelling and discoloration under the skin but no disruption of the skin. Bruising is a normal body response to trauma.
It is only when bruising occurs often and from very minor (often unnoticed) trauma that a problem may exist. Refer to the capillary fragility article for more information. While easy bruising is usually not a cause for concern, people who experience this problem should consult a physician to rule out more serious conditions that may cause bruising.
Medical causes of easy bruising sometimes may be diagnosed from a few blood tests conducted by a doctor. More often, however, no clear cause for easy bruising is found.
What are the symptoms of bruising?
Bruises look like areas of blue to purple-colored skin that may turn yellow to dark brown over the course of a few days.
Dietary changes that may be helpful.
Even minor dietary deficiencies of vitamin C can lead to increased bruising. People who experience easy bruising may benefit from eating more fruits and vegetables—common dietary sources of vitamin C and flavonoids.
Nutritional supplements that may be helpful.
Doctors often suggest that people who experience easy bruising supplement with 100 mg to 3 grams of vitamin C per day for several months. Controlled research is limited, but vitamin C supplements have been shown to reduce bruising in people with low vitamin C intake.
Flavonoids are often recommended along with vitamin C. Flavonoids are vitamin-like substances that can help strengthen capillaries and therefore may also help with bruising. Flavonoids may also increase the effectiveness of vitamin C; citrus flavonoids, in particular, improve the absorption of vitamin C.
Older preliminary research suggested that vitamin C, 400–800 mg per day, in combination with 400–800 mg per day of the flavonoid, hesperidin , reduced bruising in menopausal women.
A small, preliminary trial in Germany gave three people with progressive pigmented purpura (a chronic bruising disorder) 1,000 mg per day of vitamin C and 100 mg per day of the flavonoid rutoside. After four weeks, noticeable bruising was no longer apparent and did not recur in the three month period after treatment was stopped.
Herbs that may be helpful.
In traditional herbal medicine, a compress or ointment of sweet clover is applied to bruises. Enough should be applied to cover the bruise, and several applications per day may be necessary to improve healing. Arnica is considered by some practitioners to be among the best vulnerary (wound-healing) herbs available.
As a homeopathic remedy, arnica is often recommended as both an internal and topical means to treat minor injuries. Some healthcare practitioners recommend mixing 1 tablespoon of arnica tincture in 500 ml water, then soaking thin cloth or gauze in the liquid and applying it to the injured area for at least 15 minutes four to five times per day.
The author can personally attest to arnica’s healing properties. When I was having to give my mother daily injections of a blood-thinning medicine, she would experience severe bruising on her skin at the point of the injection. Regular massage with an arnica cream or gel accelerated the healing process considerably. Comfrey is also widely used in traditional medicine as a topical application to help heal wounds.