You may have wondered why it is as you have gotten older; you seem to bruise more easily and find bruises that you do even remember getting. There is a scientific explanation for why the problem occurs more commonly in the elderly, and generally bruises do not require treatment and are not serious. However please keep in mind that significant bruising can be a sign of medical problems and should be discussed with your health care provider.
According to the Mayo Clinic, a bruise, know in medical terms as a contusion, occurs “when small blood vessels (capillaries) near the skin’s surface are broken by the impact of a blow or injury — often on the arms or legs.” This impact causes blood to leak out of the vessels and look like the black-and-blue-mark we are all familiar with. As we age, our skin becomes thinner and loses some of the fatty layer that protects our blood vessels from injury, thus making it easier to bruise.
While most bruises do not require a doctor’s care, Dr. Aarthi Anand, a board certified geriatrician and family medicine practitioner in Los Angeles, suggests applying a frozen compress for up to twenty minutes at a time. Also if you elevate the bruised area higher than your heart during the first 24 hours of the injury, it will help to reduce swelling and inflammation.
There are several steps you can take to try to eliminate getting bruised in the first place. To start, make sure your living space has a clear path to move around in so you can avoid bumping into things as well as help prevent falls. Another thing you may want to do is to use a cane or walker if you are unsteady when you stand up or while walking.
This post is intended for informational purposes only. Please contact your health care provider with any questions or concerns you have regarding your health.
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