How Do You Know When a Bruise is Serious?

A closeup image of a doctor holding a patient’s arm in their hand while examining and pointing to a bruise near their elbow.

Everyone gets bruises at some point in their lives. Most times, they’re nothing to worry about outside of the minor pain or unsightly marking it leaves behind. 

Bruises typically have no underlying conditions associated with them and do not cause serious bodily harm. They last between 1 and 2 weeks and fade as they heal. 

In rarer instances, bruising could indicate something more serious. But how do you know when a bruise is serious? 

If you’re experiencing an urgent medical emergency that caused bad bruising or you currently have a long-lasting bruise that does not seem to fade or get better with time, your bruise may be linked to something more serious, requiring urgent or emergency care for proper diagnosis and treatment. 

Let’s discuss bruising in more detail, including a deeper dive into the question, “How do you know when a bruise is serious?”

First, What Is a Bruise?

A bruise is medically referred to as ecchymosis.

It is a common skin injury resulting in skin discoloration. While it’s minimally painful for most, it can cause discomfort and unsightly marking due to broken blood vessels leaking into the skin’s tissue.

Bruises can appear on any body part but are most common on the legs and arms. 

What Causes Bruising?

Bruising is caused by a direct impact on the skin or a minor accident affecting a specific body area.

Other, less common causes include

  • Heavy weightlifting
  • Vigorous exercise
  • Thinning skin
  • Bleeding disorders
  • Certain medications

Aside from direct impact, some health conditions can cause bruising, including

  • Blood disorders
  • Malnutrition
  • Severe alcohol abuse
  • Cushing’s Syndrome
  • Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome 
  • Leukemia
  • Cirrhosis
  • Aplastic anemia

How Do You Know if a Bruise Is Serious? 

While most bruises heal on their own, some bruises are more serious and require medical intervention for proper healing.

You should seek treatment for a bruise if

  • Pain worsens or doesn’t go away after 3 days
  • The affected area is swollen
  • You suddenly begin bruising, often with no known cause
  • You experience bleeding from other areas of your body
  • You have frequent, large, and painful bruises that last longer than 3 weeks

Another serious link to bruising is how it’s caused. It is important to note that bruising may signify domestic violence, elder abuse, or child abuse. If you believe someone you know is experiencing abuse of any kind, we encourage you to contact your local law enforcement immediately.

When to Visit Emerald Coast Urgent Care for a Bruise

At Emerald Coast Urgent Care, we are here to help you get to the bottom of your bruising and provide the relief you need sooner, especially if your bruise is severe. 

Don’t delay healing. Get the care you need now.

No appointments are necessary; walk in today to have your bruise examined.

Certified Urgent Care logo