Any type of traumatic injury, such as a fall, can cause capillaries (small blood vessels) near your skin's surface to break and leak red blood cells. This causes the reddish-purple or "black and blue" appearance of bruises on your skin.
Technically known as contusions, bruises may result from virtually any injury to blood vessels in your skin. As your body begins to heal, and metabolizes the blood cells, the bruise will typically fade to a green, yellow, or brown color before disappearing entirely.
It's virtually inevitable that you'll get a bruise once in awhile, but if you have bruises appearing often and can't figure out why, there could be an underlying reason. You may have simply bumped your arm or leg and forgotten, or it could be something else entirely.
9 Reasons You May Bruise Easily
As you get older, your skin loses some of the protective fatty layer that provides cushioning against bumps and falls. Your skin also becomes thinner while the production of collagen slows. This means that it generally takes much less force to cause a bruise than it did when you were younger.
This vascular condition, which is more common in the elderly, causes thousands of tiny bruises, often on your shins, which may have the appearance of cayenne pepper from afar. The bruises are the result of blood leaking out of small capillaries.
Blood disorders such as hemophilia and leukemia can cause unexplained bruising, often because your blood fails to clot properly. If you have severe and frequent unexplained bruising, it's a good idea to see a physician to rule out such disorders, especially if it seemed to come on suddenly.
People with diabetes may develop dark skin discolorations, often in areas where skin touches other skin frequently. These discolorations may be mistaken for bruises, but they are actually due to underlying insulin resistance.
Putting your muscles under excessive strain, such as may occur during heavy weight lifting, can cause blood vessels to burst and lead to bruising. Microscopic tears in your muscle fiber caused by exercise can also cause bruises. In addition, if you engage in sports or vigorous exercise, you may be exposed to bumps and small traumas that cause bruises but not remember the actual impacts.
Medications such as aspirin, anticoagulant medications, and anti-platelet agents reduce your blood's clotting ability and make bruising more likely. Medications including aspirin, prednisone, prednisolone, oral contraceptives, and others may also weaken your blood vessels, which increases the likelihood of bruises.
If you have close family members that tend to bruise easily, there's a chance you will too (although there are usually steps you can take to overcome this potential genetic tendency).
Pale skin doesn't make you more prone to bruising, but it does make any bruises you do get more visible than they would be on someone with darker skin.
While your body regular sun exposure to produce vitamin D (and get a host of additional benefits), excessive sun exposure – especially the type that leads to burning – can cause your skin to lose its pliability and resilience. This, in turn, makes bruising easier and more noticeable.
Your Diet May Be the Most Important Factor in How Easily You Bruise
The reason why most people bruise is that their capillaries are too fragile and essentially are easily torn. One of the best ways to ensure that your capillaries remain strong and flexible is to make sure you have an excellent source of bioflavonoids in your diet. Excellent dietary sources of bioflavonoids include dark-colored berries, dark leafy greens, garlic, and onions.
Typically, a well-rounded diet with plenty of organic vegetables and some fruits will be more than sufficient to provide all the micronutrients you will need to prevent bruising from all but the most severe traumas. However, if you bruise easily, the following nutrients will be especially important and if you're not getting enough of them via your diet a supplement may be useful:
Rutin is a bioflavonoid known to strengthen blood vessels. For this reason, it's often used for varicose veins and hemorrhoids, as well as bruising. In fact, a deficiency of bioflavonoids may allow blood vessels to break easier, which is why, if you bruise easily, you would likely benefit from taking rutin.
In one study of people with progressive pigmented purpura, the skin lesions were completely cleared after four weeks of treatment with a rutin (50 mg twice a day) and vitamin C supplement.
This bioflavonoid, found in citrus peels, is also known for strengthening capillaries. In a study of menopausal women, those who took a daily supplement of hesperidin and vitamin C had reduced bruising.
In people with low vitamin C intake, increasing vitamin C has been found to reduce bruising. Taking vitamin C along with bioflavonoids like rutin or hesperidin is recommended, as they may improve vitamin C's effectiveness and absorption. As reported by the University of Michigan Health System: