What It Means If You Bruise Easily

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I’m not sure what shift has occurred in my body recently, but I’m bruising much more easily than I did before. It seems like I have a new brownish spot—bruises are damaged blood cells under the skin’s surface—every few days, but I don’t remember the ding that caused it. I do have a 10-month-old that I’m chasing around, and maybe that’s part of it—I also have light skin, so perhaps the discoloration is more noticeable on me—but otherwise I’m stooped. Here, top dermatologists explain why some people bruise more easily than others and how you can make the black and blue spots fade faster.

Why You May Bruise More Often

“Some people bruise more easily than others based on genetics, and very importantly, age,” explains Campbell, CA dermatologist Amelia K. Hausauer, MD. “Women tend to be more prone to bruising than men, and as we get older, our skin thins with less dense collagen and protective fatty cushioning, leaving blood vessels more vulnerable to trauma. Sun exposure that breaks down the skin also predisposes to easier bruising with time.”

Glen Burnie, MD dermatologist Valerie Callender, MD says that certain medications can cause skin to bruise more easily as well. “Aspirin and ibuprofen, like Advil and Motrin IB, are two culprits, as well as blood thinners like warfarin, heparin and apixaban.” Dr. Hausauer adds that some antibiotics, antidepressants and steroids and can also contribute to more frequent bruising, as well as supplements like omega fatty acids (fish oil), garlic, ginko biloba, ginseng and ginger. Though fish oil is popular for heart health, research shows that it has the ability to slow blood clotting, which means it could also lead to excessive and prolonged bruising. This is especially the case when it’s taken with other blood thinners like aspirin.

Less commonly, Dr. Hausauer says bruising “can be a sign of a serious problem with the number or function of elements involved in blood clotting—to stop bleeding if you injure yourself—or other blood disorders.” 

How to Make Bruises Go Away Faster

If you do bruise and need to get rid of it fast, Dr. Hausauer says “the most efficacious and speedy way to help the body process away these red blood cells leaked under the skin is through a vascular laser such as Vbeam that gets absorbed by hemoglobin in the cells and helps to dissipate the spot.” Vascular lasers emit a burst of light into the bruise and blood vessels without harming the surrounding skin.

Arnica is another option recommended by many doctors, but Dr. Hausauer isn’t a huge fan. “I don’t really believe in arnica,” she says. “The studies are not very convincing to me, but some patients do find it helpful. However, Alastin INhance is an interesting topical product that contains arnica and helps to improve bruising and swelling. It was designed for after injectable fillers or wrinkle relaxers, but can be used for any bruising.”

How to Strengthen Your Skin to Help Prevent Bruising

“Typically people bruise when their connective tissue does not provide enough support. This leaves the vessels susceptible to minimal trauma,” explains West Palm Beach, FL dermatologist Kenneth R. Beer, MD. “Taking vitamin C—500 milligrams a day is sufficient for most adults—is good for aging collagen, and it is even better to both take it by mouth and apply it topically. My favorite vitamin C skin-care product is SkinRx Mega-Vitamin C and Ferulic Antioxidant Serum.” 

Some dermatologists also recommend collagen peptide supplements to their patients with thinner skin who bruise easily. Though most doctors agree more research is needed on the efficacy of collagen peptides, collagen is a structural protein found naturally in our bodies, including our skin, but it diminishes over time. The idea is that collagen peptides taken as daily powders, tablets, etc, can help build back what’s been lost, and in turn, strengthen the skin and reduce the incidence of bruising.

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