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Ask Dr. Leavitt--I am bruising easily; should I be concerned?

Q.  As I have gotten older I notice I bruise easier than I use to. Sometimes I'll have a bruise on my arm and not even remember bumping it on anything. Is this something to be concerned about?

A. Many times people will wonder, "Now when did I do that?" as they look at a dark blue mark on their arm. If you bruise easily, you are not alone. As we age, bruising can become more common. One reason for this is because skin tends to thin with age. Sun damaged skin bruises easily and genetics can take some of the blame--some families just tend to bruise easier than others. Also, some medications, such as blood thinners, gout medicine, arthritis medications, and steroids, can result in bruising easily.

Usually bruising easily isn't a sign of anything serious, but sometimes it indicates another problem that may require a professional medical care.

Bruises are caused by the breakage of blood vessels under the skin. When a blow to the area causes these vessels to break, blood leaks out and causes the "black and blue" appearance we call a bruise. The harder you're hit, the darker and larger the bruise will be, but sometimes even little bumps can cause significant bruises.

Sometimes bruising easily is a symptom of a lack of vitamins or problems with clotting. If you have never bruised easily before but suddenly find yourself dealing with a myriad of bruises, you may want to call your family doctor. The same is true if your bruises are especially painful or tend to be large and you can't remember bumping yourself. Bleeding elsewhere (nose or gums) in addition to bruising also points to the need for medical attention.

At Leavitt Family Medicine, we are here for you. We welcome your questions and comments. Feel free to contact our office for an appointment with any medical problems you may have. .

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