Is this a cause for concern?
Occasional bruising is usually nothing to worry about. Observing other unusual symptoms can help determine whether there is an underlying cause.
Often, you can reduce your risk of future bruising by making sure you’re getting the right nutrients in your diet.
Read more about common causes, what to look out for, and when to see a doctor.
- Exercise vigorously
Vigorous exercise can leave you with more than just sore muscles. If you recently overused yourself at the gym, you may have bruises around the injured muscle.
When you tighten a muscle, you damage the muscle tissue deep in the skin. This causes the blood vessel to burst and bleed into the surrounding area. If you bleed more than normal for any reason, blood can collect under the skin and cause bruising.
- Drug treatment
Some medications can make you more sensitive to bruising.
Anticoagulants (blood thinners) and over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers, such as aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil), and naproxen (Aleve), can affect your blood’s ability to clot.
As your blood takes longer to clot, more of it leaks out of your blood vessels and collects under your skin.
If your bruising is due to an overdose, you may experience:
If you suspect that your bruising is caused by using an OTC or prescription medication, see your doctor. They can advise you on next steps.
- Lack of nutrients
Vitamins play many important roles in your blood. They help make red blood cells, maintain mineral levels, and help lower cholesterol.
For example, vitamin C supports your immune system and helps heal wounds. If you don’t get enough vitamin C, your skin bruises easily, resulting in “accidental” bruising.
Other symptoms of vitamin C deficiency include:
swollen or bleeding gums
If you don’t get enough iron, you can bruise easily. Because your body needs iron to keep your blood cells healthy.
If your blood cells aren’t healthy, your body can’t get the oxygen it needs to function. This makes your skin more sensitive to bruising.
Other symptoms of iron deficiency include:
Shortness of breath
swollen or sore tongue
crawling and tingling sensation in your legs
cold hands or feet
desire to eat non-food items such as ice, dirt, mud
swollen or sore tongue
Although rare in healthy adults, vitamin K deficiency can slow the rate of blood clotting. If the blood doesn’t clot quickly, more of it collects under the skin and bruises.
Other symptoms of vitamin K deficiency include:
bleeding in the mouth or gums
blood in your stool
excessive bleeding from a puncture or wound
If you suspect that bruising is the result of a deficiency, see your healthcare provider. They may prescribe iron tablets or other medications to meet your nutritional needs, as well as help you change your diet.
Diabetes is a metabolic disorder that affects your body’s ability to produce and use insulin.
Diabetes itself does not cause bruising, but it can delay healing and cause bruising to last longer than normal.
If you have not yet received a diagnosis of diabetes, look for other symptoms, such as:
accidental weight loss
tingling, pain, numbness in hands and feet
If you experience one or more of these symptoms along with bruising, see your doctor or other health care provider. They can diagnose and advise on next steps if needed.
If you have already been diagnosed with diabetes, your bruising may be the result of a slow wound healing. This can be caused by pricking the skin to measure blood sugar or by injecting insulin.
- Von Willebrand disease
Von Willebrand disease is a genetic disorder that affects the blood’s ability to clot.
People with von Willebrand disease are born with the disease but do not develop symptoms until later in life. This bleeding is a lifelong condition.
Bleeding may be heavier or slower than normal if the blood does not clot properly. Whenever this blood gets stuck under the surface of the skin, it causes a bruise.
A person with Von Willebrand’s disease may notice large or lumpy bruises from small, even unnoticeable injuries.
Other symptoms include:
heavy bleeding after trauma, dental work or surgery
Nosebleeds that last longer than 10 minutes
blood in the urine or stool
severe or prolonged
large blood clots (more than one inch) in your menstrual flow.
If you suspect your symptoms are the result of von Willebrand disease, see your doctor.
Thrombophilia means that your blood has an increased tendency to clot. This is a condition where your body produces too much or too little of a clotting chemical.
Thrombophilia is usually asymptomatic until a blood clot develops.
If blood clots develop, your doctor may test you for thrombophilia and give you blood thinners (anticoagulants). People who take blood thinners tend to bruise more easily.
Less common reasons
In some cases, accidental bruising may be due to one of the following common causes:
People with cancer often have a lot of bleeding and bruising.
If you are receiving chemotherapy or radiation therapy, you may have a low platelet count (thrombocytopenia).
Without enough platelets, your blood takes longer to clot than normal. This means that a small bump or injury can cause a large or lumpy bruise.