Constantly Dealing With Black and Blues? Here Are 15 Possible Reasons Why You Bruise Easily

·6 min read

Accidentally knock into the corner of your couch or land on your butt while rollerblading and you can expect to see a bruise form pretty quickly. But for some people, new bruises seem to pop up out of nowhere. Someone will point to some discoloration on their arm or leg and ask what happened and they’ll look down just as surprised to see the bruise as they are.

Can you relate? Fortunately, Dr. Andrew Patane, MD, an internal medicine doctor at NYU Langone says that most of the time, bruises aren’t something to worry about. “Typically bruises are very innocent and will resolve on their own,” he says. But if you bruise easily, it can still be helpful to find out why as your body may be clueing you in on an underlying condition that deserves more attention.

First, it’s important to know what bruises actually are. “Bruising is the leaking of blood from the surrounding blood vessels that collects under the skin,” explains Dr. Lindy Krebs, MD, an assistant professor in the department of community health and family medicine at the University of Florida College of Medicine. Both doctors explain that there are many reasons why someone may bruise more easily than others. Keep reading to find out what they are.

Related: We All Bump Our Heads Once In a While, but When Does It Require Medical Attention? Doctors Explain

15 Reasons for Bruising Easily

1. Having light-colored skin

When blood leaks from blood vessels and collects under the skin, it causes discoloration to occur, which is easier to see on pale or light-colored skin. For this reason, Dr. Krebs says that people with light-colored skin may have more noticeable bruising than someone with a darker complexion.

2. Being female

Women bruise more easily than men, according to Dr. Krebs. One potential reason for this is that estrogen can weaken blood vessel walls. This can make it easier for blood to leak through, which can then lead to bruising.

3. Being overweight

Dr. Krebs says that individuals who are overweight are more likely to bruise easily. This is because more pressure is being put on the blood vessels from the weight, which can cause the blood vessels to weaken.

4. Being older

As we age, we are more prone to bruising. “There is a disorder called senile purpura which is a normal skin finding in the elderly that involves bruising on the forearms and legs,” Dr. Krebs says. This skin condition affects about 10 percent of elderly individuals.

5. Not getting enough vitamin C

Though Dr. Krebs says that vitamin C deficiency in the U.S. is rare, both doctors do say that not getting enough can lead to bruising easily. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends consuming between 75 and 90 milligrams of vitamin C a day. This is key for keeping blood vessels healthy.

Related: Looking To Boost Your Immune System and Up Your Vitamin C Intake? Add These 25 Foods to Your Diet

6. Not getting enough vitamin K

Both doctors also say that not getting enough vitamin K can lead to bruising easily. This is because without adequate vitamin K, the longer it will take for blood to clot, which can cause bruising and bleeding problems. Dr. Krebs says that the vast majority of people in the U.S. get enough vitamin K, which for the record, is between 90 and 120 milligrams a day.

“Vitamin K deficiency occurs more in patients with 'bacterial overgrowth syndrome,' [which is] found in people with intestinal disorders,” Dr. Patane says. He says that this means if you have inflammatory bowel disease, celiac disease, pancreatitis or another intestinal disorder, you should be especially mindful of your vitamin K intake.

7. Being on blood thinners

“Certain medications can cause [easy] bruising such as blood thinning medications, medications that alter platelet function—like Aspirin—and even anti-inflammatory medications,” Dr. Patane says. So if you popped a Tylenol for a headache, you’re more prone to bruising than you normally are.

8. Taking SSRIs

If you take an antidepressant or anti-anxiety medication, Dr. Krebs says that you’re more likely to experience bruising than someone who isn’t. While this is rare, one reason why it can happen is that the medication causes blood platelets to receive lower amounts of serotonin, and this can lead to bleeding. This could cause blood to pool under the skin, resulting in bruising.

Related: Feeling Down? Try Incorporating These Depression-Fighting Foods Into Your Diet

9. Taking antibiotics

Antibiotics are yet another type of medication that can cause easy bruising, according to Dr. Krebs. This is because they can cause acute clotting problems, which can cause blood to pool and a bruise to form.

10. Taking supplements

“Supplements including vitamin E, ginger and gingko may also lead to easy bruising,” Dr. Krebs says. While vitamin E, ginger and ginkgo (an herb linked to supporting brain health), have many benefits, they do slightly thin blood, which is why taking them regularly can lead to bruising more easily.

11. Alcohol abuse

Dr. Patane says that drinking an excessive amount of alcohol can make someone more prone to bruising in a couple of different ways. One is that alcohol can cause a low blood platelet count because alcohol damages bone marrow, which makes blood cells. Excessive alcohol use also damages the liver and the liver plays an important role in blood cell management. If the bloodstream isn’t able to stay healthy, easy bruising can occur.

12. Liver disease

The important role that the liver plays in blood cell management means that having liver disease can also make someone more prone to bruising, according to Dr. Krebs. While many may not think about liver health as much as heart health or brain health, it plays a hugely important role in the body, including keeping the bloodstream functioning properly.

13. Platelet abnormalities

Both doctors say that if there are any abnormalities affecting the blood vessels, bruising can occur more easily. There are many different types of platelet disorders, which Dr. Patane say must be diagnosed through lab tests.

14. Having a low blood platelet count

On a related note, both doctors say that having a low platelet count can cause bruising because this makes it more difficult for the blood to clot.

15. Experiencing trauma or physical injury

Last, Dr. Patane says that experiencing trauma or physical injury can make someone more susceptible to bruising. Any time blood vessels are compromised, easy bruising can occur.

Though bruising can look concerning, Dr. Patane says that most of the time it isn’t anything to worry about. “If a bruised area does not heal or improve in two weeks, one should seek the attention of a physician to further evaluate this,” he says. In these cases, he says a doctor will order lab tests to see if there is an underlying cause.

With this in mind, the next time a bruise appears seemingly out of nowhere, don’t freak out. Just keep an eye on it and if it’s still there two weeks later, schedule an appointment with your doctor. And just make sure to keep an eye out for furniture corners—they can come out of nowhere! 

Next up, find out what toasted skin syndrome is and why you shouldn't rest your laptop on your knees.

Sources

  • Dr. Andrew Patane, MD, internal medicine doctor at NYU Langone

  • Dr. Lindy Krebs, MD, assistant professor in the department of community health and family medicine at the University of Florida College of Medicine