Do you constantly experience random bruising on legs, thighs, arms, hands, breasts, back, or stomach? Then you have come to the right place. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore what it means to have random bruises and pinpoint some intervention measures that may be suitable for your particular case.
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What Does Random Bruising Mean?
Random bruises are unsightly and can leave you wondering if you have a health concern that needs immediate medical attention. So, what does random bruising mean? Well, random bruising simply means that you have sustained internal bleeding beneath the surface of the skin. In other words, it means that some capillaries have leaked blood out into the surrounding tissues for whatever reason.
The dark red, purple, or blue-black black discoloration that is characteristic of bruises is given off by the blood trapped beneath the surface of the skin. The bruise may turn yellowish or greenish as it heals during which the leaked blood is reabsorbed into the body.
What Causes Random Bruising?
Now that we know that random bruising indicates the presence of leaked blood beneath the surface of the skin, you may then be left to wonder what causes random bruising.
Well, random bruising occurs when someone bumps into something leading to trauma the skin. When that happens, blood capillaries get damaged. Blood then leaks from the damaged blood capillaries and gathers close to the surface of the skin resulting in the appearance of bruises.
Injury and accidents are common causes of bruising. Bruises can also be causes by exercise and strenuous physical activities. People who exercise rigorously e.g. athletes and weight lifters tend to get unexplained bruises more due to the microscopic tears in blood capillaries associated with such activities. Bruising can also occur as a result of assault and physical abuse and is often a sign of domestic violence.
Random Bruising on Body Without Injury
Whether from trauma, exercise, or physical abuse, injury to the skin is the most obvious underlying cause of bruising, but what if you have random bruising without injury in areas of the body that you cannot recall getting trauma on?
Well, it could still be the result of minor injury that you don’t recall by the time the consequent bruises start to show up in a few days. For example, bumping into bedposts or other hard objects and then failing to remember the incident is often a factor for unexplained bruises in thighs and shin. Lower back and rib bruising are also common.
Unrecalled injuries or bruises without injury aside, various other factors could as well cause unexplained random bruising including:
Aging: Random bruising in older people frequently occur as a result of the resulting thinner skin and weak and more fragile supportive tissues.
To start with, as people age the skin loses its protective layers of fat which cushions the blood vessels against trauma making them more susceptible to ruptures. Secondly, the rate of production of collagen – an important structural protein in the skin – slows down making the underlying supportive framework for blood vessels more fragile.
According to Gary Goldenberg, MD, assistant professor of dermatology at the Mount Sinai Hospital, ageing-related bruising is more common in the “60+ population” who require “…a lot less trauma to create a bruise…”
Medications and dietary supplements: Some medications are known to increase the risk of bruising. These include aspirin, corticosteroids (prednispone), warfarin and anti-inflammatory medicines (ibuprofen).
Such medications typically reduce the ability of blood to clot. Consequently, any damaged capillaries takes longer than normal to stop bleeding which then allows enough time for enough blood to leak as to cause bruising.
Some dietary supplements such as ginkgo and fish oil may also cause a similar effect in blood.
Dietary vitamin deficiency: Vitamin C deficiency (scurvy) may also be to blame for random bruising for no apparent reason. Vitamins B12, K, and folic acid deficiency could also be the culprit as these are all important co-factors for various body processes.
Sun damage: Prolonged and excessive exposure to ultraviolet light from the sun is also often to blame for random bruises that are not associated with any injuries or traumas. The associated sun damage leaves the skin thinner and at higher risk of bruising.
Natural predisposition: According to Dr. Goldenberg, some people have a natural propensity to bruising as a result of their fair, thin skin. They tend to get bruised as a resultof even insignificant levels of trauma that would leave their counterparts with more adipose or fatty tissue unscathed so to speak.
Bleeding disorder: Random bruising that occur for no apparent reason could be a sign of a bleeding disorders that cause easy bleeding and/or slow clotting of blood, more so if it is accompanied by bleeding gums or frequent nosebleeds. Some of the blood disorders commonly associated with bruising easily are anemia, leukemia, and hemophilia.
Other diseases: Several medical conditions and diseases are also known to cause bruising. Among these are diabetes, Vasculitis, Grave’s disease, primary biliary cirrhosis, and purpuric dermatosis. It is for this reason that any random bruising that takes more than a couple weeks to improve and more than 4 weeks to heal warrants medical attention.
Random Bruising on Legs and Thighs
I recently developed mysterious, random bruising on legs and thighs. I have no idea where they came from (have not bumped into anything). I am 32 years old female and have never had this problem before. They are fairly small but clustered especially on the shin. Why do you think this could be happening? I have been tested for anemia before but was found to be okay?” Jaylene
Legs, thighs and arms are some of the areas of the body most susceptible to bruising. Bruised legs and thighs also take more time to heal compared to other parts of the body such as face and arms.
In addition to anemia and other blood clotting related problems such hemophilia and leukemia, random bruising on legs and thighs could be the result of factors such as exercise, injury, vitamin deficiency, blood circulation related conditions (Vasculitis), diabetes, side-effect of blood-thinning medications (e.g. aspirin, ibuprofen, and corticosteroids), among others.
You can always improve symptoms on your thighs and legs and aid the healing process by taking the following measures:
- Apply cold compresses (ice pack wrapped in a small towel) 3 times a day during the first 48 hours to minimize swelling and tenderness on thighs and legs with signs of bruising
- Apply warm compresses (cloth dampened with warm water) several times daily thereafter to encouragereabsorption of blood
- Take anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce pain and inflammation e.g. acetaminophen
You should see a doctor immediately if bruising is accompanied by bleeding gums, frequent nose bleeding, or heavy menstrual periods; occurs too frequently; or takes longer than 2weeksto improve and more than 4 weeks to fully heal.
Random Bruising on Stomach, Breast and Back
And then there is an anonymous reader who asked, “I keep getting this sudden, random bruising on stomach, breast and back from nothing; no injuries whatsoever. I am going to get some blood tests done this coming Friday, but am pretty scared. Any ideas what this is?”
Having random bruising on the stomach, breast and back is something that warrants to be checked by a doctor more so if they keep recurring (without trauma)as this could be an indication of an underlying medical problem.
Your doctor will get some blood tests done to determine how well your blood clots in order to rule out blood clotting related problems such as leukemia and hemophilia. Your doctor will specifically want to know how long your time takes to clot and your platelet count.
Depending on the results and initial diagnosis, your doctor will then determine your best course of treatment. S/he may as well recommend more evaluation of the random bruises on stomach, breast and back by a hematologist (blood specialist).
In addition to leukemia and hemophilia, stomach bruises may also be caused by the following conditions: pancreatitis, duodenal ulcer, lymphoma, thrombocytopenia, gall bladder obstruction, heparin injection, Von Willebrand’s disease, and ectopic pregnancy.
Random Bruising on Hands
“I have never had a problem with bruising in my life but in the last few weeks, I have been spotting random bruises at the back of my hands and arms. I am wary that this could be a blood disorder which would be bad news considering that my age is 64. Is that so?” James
Well, James, random bruising at the back of hands and arms is a common phenomenon among older adult, especially those aged above 60 years and you seem to fit in that demographic group. These bruises, medically known as actinic purpura, often starts as red flat blotches that later turn purple, depend, and finally fade away gradually.
This happens as a result of weakened blood vessels owing to the natural skin ageing process which is characterized by loss of subcutaneous fat layers and decreased collagen production. Many years of sun exposure often has a role to play in this as well. Taking aspirin, Coumadin, and alcohol could make bruises on hands worse.
While most such bruises will clear away on their own, you can always speed up the healing process by taking simple homecare measures such as cold compresses (in the first 48 hours) and warm compresses (thereafter).