I took a pretty bad fall last week. What part of climbing up on the back of the sofa to swat at a wasp sounds like a good idea to you? Sure I got the wasp, but I also lost my balance and went face first into an end table. Once I figured out that I hadn’t broken any bones, I knew bad bruises were coming. I have some fairly spectacular looking bruises on my right knee, right elbow and rib cage right now. We’ve all probably had hundreds of bruises in our lives, but do you know why?
Your doctor may call a bruise a contusion. Basically, bruises occur when trauma causes blood in your capillaries to either seep or hemorrhage into the surrounding tissue.
With a minor bruise, the bleeding is confined to a relatively small area close to the skin surface and you see it turn red within minutes. The bruise appears red because it is fresh blood filled with iron and oxygen. Next the bruise will progress to blue/purple coloring as the leaked blood cells break down. The bruise darkens with the dispersal of the oxygen in the leakage and as the iron starts to break down.
As the bruise continues to heal, it will turn green and yellow due to the presence of a hemoglobin breakdown product called biliverdin. The last part of the word, “verdin,” comes from the Latin word for green — making it easy to remember (and impress your friends).
And because the trauma most likely isn’t even in any bruising event, you may see all four colors of bruising at any given time. It’s your own personal, ever-changing piece of artwork until the area heals and the bloodstream carries away all the broken down cells. Normally, it takes 10-14 days for a bruise to go away but the time can vary based on how severe the bruising is.
I’m just starting to turn purple so I’m guessing I’ve got at least a couple of weeks before I lose the reminders of my fight with a wasp! Want to know more about bruises? Check out the article on WebMD.