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A bruise, also known as a contusion, is a type of injury that damages the skin and underlying tissues without breaking the skin. Bruises occur when a force is applied to the skin, causing the tiny blood vessels (capillaries) to break and bleed. The blood then pools under the skin, causing discoloration. Bruises can range in color from purple to yellow-green, depending on the severity of the injury and the amount of time that has passed since the injury occurred.

Bruises can occur anywhere on the body but are most common on the arms, legs, and face. Common causes of bruises include falls, sports injuries, and direct blows to the skin. Bruises can also be caused by certain medical conditions, such as hemophilia, or by certain medications, such as blood thinners.

Treating a bruise depends on the severity of the injury. Minor bruises can be treated with the RICE method (rest, ice, compression, elevation). Applying a cold compress to the area for 15 minutes can help reduce swelling and pain. Compression can help reduce swelling and prevent further bleeding. Elevating the area can also help reduce swelling.

In more severe cases, a doctor may recommend medications to reduce pain and swelling or may even recommend surgery if the bruise is deep or if the underlying tissue is damaged.

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  • Mayo Clinic. (2020). Bruise. Retrieved from
  • American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. (n.d.). Bruises. Retrieved from