A bruise, quite simply, is the booby prize that comes with life's lumps and bumps.
It's what you see when blood leaks out of blood vessels into tissues of skin, mucous membranes or other organs, including muscle and bone. Most of the time, it's nothing to worry about, merely the dark side of bumbling your way through the day.
You're more likely to bruise if you suffer from a vitamin C deficiency, underlying genetic disorders, alcohol abuse or side effects of certain medications, says Dr. Javette Orgain, vice speaker of the American Academy of Family Physicians. But anyone who knocks up against an unforgiving force - be it car door or coffee table - is gonna sport that telltale bruise.
If you bruise easily, ask your doctor to:
-conduct a thorough history and physical exam.
-determine your standardized bleeding score (a ranking system to organize your bleeding history and avoid overlooking common inherited disorders).
-order blood work, including complete blood count with platelet count, peripheral blood smear, prothrombin time, partial thromboplastin time.
If there's no underlying disease causing bruising, consider:
-boosting your daily vitamin C intake. Vitamin C, an antioxidant, is known to strengthen and help repair cell walls. You don't need megadoses, says Orgain, just make sure you're meeting the minimum daily requirement - 90 mg for men, 75 mg for women.
-steering clear of medications known to cause easy bruising, such as Plavix, Coumadin and aspirin (ask your doctor if there are smart substitutes).
-cutting your alcohol consumption.
-clearing the clutter around your house, so you have less to bang into.
If you're older or have thinning skin, wear thicker clothing.
Can you hasten fading?
Try Traumeel, a homeopathic ointment that lots of folks insist fades the blues. But, fact is, there's little that will hasten fading, which takes anywhere from two to three weeks, says Orgain. Hit that bump with ice soon as you can after impact, but then sit back and watch the color show.