We can all go black and blue every now and then, but for some of us bruises present a more vivid and constant problem. Turns out there’s a medical reason why some people bruise easier than others!
A bruise occurs when we break the blood vessels throughout our bodies. Red blood cells leak out from around the bruised area, but cannot survive without proper vessels. As these blood cells dissolve, a colourful bruise forms in blue, black, brown, purple, green and even yellow.
Women seem to bruise more easily than men, due to having less collagen and thinner skin. Collagen supports our skin tissues, whilst women as a whole seem to have less thick skin. According to leading dermatologist Dr Andrew Miller, “The fibrous layer of the skin is thicker in men, as a rule, than it is in women”.
Age also affects how our bodies bruise. We gradually have less fat deposits under our skin, which can lead to drooping. As a result, the internal structures of our skin aren’t able to hold blood vessels firmly in place. “When you bump against things, the skin moves more”, explains Dr Miller. “The shearing is greater and that results in more mechanical stress and more bruising”.
Exposure to certain medications and even the sun can also impact how we bruise too. Sun exposure reduces the firmness of our skin, which means that our blood vessels are less durable. Meanwhile, medications like Aspirin, Heparin or Warfarin can interfere with blood clotting, making us more susceptible to bruises.
Dr Miller explained that medications themselves aren’t the problem. “They won’t necessarily make you bruise easily but you’ll bruise excessively”, he said. “There has to be some sort of trauma there instead of, ‘oh my goodness, I can’t remember anything to give myself that'”.
Certain disease such as leukaemia and haemophilia can lead to excessive bruising, so Dr Miller believes we should always be mindful of our bodies. “People who get big bruises with relatively little trauma… that is an indication that they should probably speak to their doctor about it”, he said.