Everyone is familiar with the discolouring of the skin and its deeper tissue as the result of a knock or injury – it often turns blue, purple or black, then fades to yellow after a few days. A bruise is, in fact, caused by blood leaking from damaged blood vessels and then spreading into surrounding tissue. The leaked blood is converted into different chemicals as it is broken down by the body’s clearing-away process, which explains the range of colours.
Some people, and especially some women, do bruise more easily than others, even if they are fit and healthy otherwise. This may be because their small blood vessels are easily damaged; alternatively, their blood’s ability to clot may be at fault.
If you suffer from a painful bruise, don’t rub or massage the bruised area – pressure may make things worse. Bruises are particularly painful if the bruised area lies over a bone. When that’s the case the clogged tissues are more tightly stretched. An ice pack, in the form of a cold compress or a packet of frozen peas (peas are very useful because the packet moulds easily to the shape of your body), applied immediately after the knock may help to reduce the bruising; it may also help to numb the pain afterwards.
If it is your leg that is bruised, sitting with your leg resting on something that raises it above your waist and applying a hot water bottle at a comfortably warm temperature may allow the blood to be absorbed back into the bloodstream more quickly.
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Lasonil, Witch Doctor
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