Why Do I Bruise So Easily? Common Causes for Bruising

Bruising easily is sometimes normal but can also be caused by medications that thin your blood and by medical conditions that your doctor should know about. Easy bruising, frequent bruising, or bruising in unusual places may be warnings of a bleeding problem.

bruise easily on leg

Aging, medications, and vitamin deficiencies are all causes of bruising more easily.

© Photoboyko | Getty Images

Bruising is caused by breaks in tiny blood vessels that are beneath your skin but close to the surface, called capillaries. If you get a blow or bump hard enough to break some capillaries, bleeding will show up as a purple or red bruise. Over a few days, the bruise will turn brown, green, and yellow as your body reabsorbs the blood.

What Causes Easy Bruising?

Easy bruising is more common in people at older ages. As you age, your skin becomes thinner because you lose some of the fat beneath your skin. Softer bumps can break capillaries. These bruises are most common on your arms and legs, where most bumps happen.

Bruising easily may be abnormal if you have frequent bruising and you can’t remember any bumps or other causes. Causes of easy bruising include medications, supplements, diseases of the blood, and other conditions that affect blood clotting.

  • Medications that thin your blood to prevent dangerous blood clots are a common cause of easy bruising. They include anti-platelet medications that inhibit clotting cells called platelets, loke aspirin and Plavix. Other blood-thinning medications that interfere with clotting protein, called anticoagulants, include Coumadin, Eliquis, and Xarelto.
  • Other medications that are not given to prevent blood clots, but may have a side effect of causing easy bruising. These include some antibiotics, oral and topical steroids, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), like ibuprofen (Advil) and naproxen (Aleve).
  • Several supplements can cause easy bruising, especially if you combine them with other medications that cause bruising. These include ginkgo, garlic, ginseng, and fish oil.
  • Blood diseases like aplastic anemia, white blood cell cancer, hemophilia, Von Wideband disease may cause easy bruising and prolonged bleeding.
  • Liver disease can cause the loss of proteins you need for clotting.
  • Other causes include abuse of alcohol and malnutrition.
  • Bruising easily from vitamin deficiency can be caused by low levels of vitamins B12, C, and K.

Symptoms of Easy Bruising

It is not unusual to have an occasional bruise that you can’t explain, especially as you get older. Even though easy bruising may be caused by prescribed medication, do not stop taking your medication before checking with your health care provider.

These are symptoms of easy bruising that you should tell your health care provider about:

  • Frequent bruises from very light bumps or from bumps you don’t remember
  • Large bruises in places where bumps are usual, like your back, chest, or face
  • Bruises that take more than one week to start changing color
  • Frequent bruising along with prolonged bleeding such as more than 5 nosebleeds per year, any bleeding that lasts more than 10 minutes, blood in your mouth, stool, or urine, and for women long or heavy menstrual period.

What to Do When You Bruise Easily

Let your health care provider know. Your healthcare provider may do blood testing to find the cause of easy bruising. If you are taking any medications or supplements that cause bruising, you may need to stop or change them.

There is no specific treatment for easy bruising, other than treating the cause. If you have a bump, elevating the area above the level of your heart and outing ice on it may decrease bruising. Finally, although it is not a cause of easy bruising, frequent and unexplained in a friend or loved one could be a sign of child, domestic, or elder abuse.

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Chris Iliades, MD

Dr. Chris Iliades is board-certified in Ear, Nose and Throat and Head and Neck Surgery from the American Board of Otolaryngology and Head and Neck Surgery. He holds a medical … Read More

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