What are the causes of easy bruising?
Bruising is the body's natural reaction to significant trauma or injuries that happens to the skin. It results from blood spilling from the blood vessels (capillaries, venules and veins) and into the tissue of the skin. These red blood cells get digested into hemosiderin, which is an iron-storage complex that results from the breakdown of blood and is responsible for the changing colors of a bruise under the skin. Bruises can appear as small dots, called petechiae, or appear to be large purple stains called ecchymoses and purpura.
Some people notice that bruising happens very easily for them or easier than it has in the past. For example, they may notice that a slight brushing of their skin against an object results in a bruise, whereas before it has not. Others may notice spontaneous bruising that develops on the forearms.
There are numerous reasons why one can bruise more easily and we will go over a few of them here:
1. The changes that happen to the skin from aging and chronic sun exposure (dermatoheliosis) are very common causes of easy bruising. Both aging and chronic sun exposure can lead to thinning of the epidermis, the top layer of the skin, thus making the blood vessels underneath it more susceptible to easy injury.
2. As we age (and due to excessive sun exposure), there is natural breakdown of the collagen and elastic fibers that make up our dermis and normally wrap around the small blood vessels called capillaries. With a decreased amount of this support cushion around them, capillaries can more easily rupture due to minor trauma and result in significant bruising to seemingly mild injuries or contact.
3. Blood thinner use is another common reason that contributes to bruising. Blood thinners such as aspirin or medications like warfarin as well as many others function by reducing clotting factors and promoting easy bruising due to minor trauma. Nonetheless, following your doctor's advice on blood thinner use is critical and you should never stop your blood thinners without first consulting with your prescribing physician.
4. Being on chronic immunosuppressive medications such as prednisone can also contribute to easy bruising from minor trauma.
5. Spontaneous bruising and easy bruising on sun-exposed exposed forearms and legs has many names including senile purpura, actinic purpura, solar purpura. This can manifest as bruises that develop from minor trauma or spontaneously without any trauma and can take a long time to fade.
Additionally, solar purpura often leave unsightly pigment changes in their wake. While the cause of solar purpura isn't fully elucidated, the skin changes detailed above that occur in mature and maturing skin and from chronic sun exposure all contribute to this condition.
While there is no silver bullet solution for easy bruising since as you can read, a lot of the causes are due to either chronic conditions or medications that a person has to take, there are a few options that one can think of.
1) Arnica and vitamin K based creams like Skintensive Bruise & Scar cream may be used as a moisturizer on the skin to help prevent future bruising and help with resolution of bruises that appear. In fact, Skintensive Bruise & Scar cream won the Best Bruise Cream award from NEWBEAUTY.
While even this product won't miraculously erase any bruises or completely prevent them from forming, it can be part of the regimen of skin care to help deal with this condition.
2) For people with severe solar purpura on the forearms, wearing arm sleeves on the forearms can be helpful. Arm sleeves can offer sun protection, while reducing the tendency of small bumps to causes bruising.
3) Easy bruising on the legs can frequently can be associated with chronic leg swelling and lower leg vein valve functional decline. As we age, we can have decreased functioning of the valves in your leg veins that work against gravity to prevent blood from leaking back into your leg veins instead of being pumped up to the heart. This can contribute to spider and varicose veins. It is for these reasons that wearing well designed compression stockings can help mitigate easy bruising, swelling, and varicose vein formation on the lower legs. It is for this reason that Skintensive developed its Venosure line of compression socks!
We hope this information on why you bruise easily was helpful in understanding this common, but not often spoken about condition. Knowledge about the causes is important to help you think about whether there are any modifiable risk factors (such as being diligent in sun protection) and help you feel more comfortable in understanding your condition.