A contusion is when blood vessels are damaged or broken after an injury. Blood and fluid then leak from the injured blood vessels into the tissue. This results in a discolored, purplish area in the skin. It takes two to three weeks to go away. A contusion is also called a bruise.
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Contusions are usually caused by bumps to the skin. This may happen from falling, bumping into something, or being hit or kicked.
Almost everyone gets contusions. Those with a higher risk are:
- Kids and teens
- People who play contact sports
- People with blood-clotting problems
- People who are taking blood thinners, such as aspirin
Contusions may cause:
- Skin discoloration—usually blue and/or purple, fading to yellow
Contusions are diagnosed by physical exam of the skin.
The goal is to reduce swelling and pain by:
- Putting ice or a cold pack on the injured area
- Raising the injured area above the level of the heart
- Taking pain medicine, as advised by the doctor
Using proper safety equipment can help prevent contusions.
- Anticoagulation overview. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/drug-review/anticoagulation-overview.
- Bruises. Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital website. Available at: http://www.stanfordchildrens.org/en/topic/default?id=bruises-90-P02795.
- Neutze, D. and Roque, J. Clinical evaluation of bleeding and bruising in primary care. American Family Physician, 2016; 93 (4): 279-286.
- Mary-Beth Seymour, RN
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