A bruise occurs when your blood vessels burst and the blood leaks up to the surface of your skin. They will often start off a deep blue or purple colour, before fading to a greenish-yellow.

Bruises will feel a little tender, especially for the first few days, but they are usually not serious. However, as you’ll see, there are a handful of situations where it’s best to speak to a doctor.

The main cause of most bruises is when something collides with your skin. There are many possible situations where this could occur, including bumping into something, falling over or playing a contact sport.

Bruising might become more common as you get older. That’s because your skin gets thinner and your body will generally become more fragile. You might find that something which wouldn’t have caused a bruise in your younger days now leaves you with a mark.

Bruising can also be a side effect of certain medicines. For example, you might be on medication designed to thin your blood. It’s important that you pass this on to our doctors as it will affect the treatment they recommend.

A ‘black eye’ is caused by bruising around your eyes. Like most bruises, it’ll usually clear up on its own, but it’s important to monitor a black eye closely and ensure you speak to a doctor if it doesn’t go away, or if it starts to turn red or ooze.

Ignoring symptoms if they get worse could put you at risk of more serious problems

The majority of bruises are not serious and will go away on their own after a couple of weeks. You can speed up this process by putting a cold compress on the bruise, which will stop the blood flow. Use an ice pack or bag of frozen peas wrapped in a cloth - never put these directly on your skin as it’ll hurt.

You should consult a doctor if:

  • You notice lots of bruises that you can’t explain
  • You find that you’ve started to bruise more easily than normal
  • You’ve had a bruise for longer than a couple of weeks that shows no sign of fading or going away