When Does a Bruise Need Medical Attention?

May 18, 2023

Everyone experiences bruising at some point in their lives, and often we notice a bruise without being able to recognize when it happened. Bruises are normal and often heal on their own, but sometimes, they can be serious and require medical attention. Here are the differences between a bruise and a hematoma, and how to tell when you should see a healthcare provider for treatment. For same-day injury care, visit the walk-in clinic at AFC Urgent Care Stoneham– open seven days a week!

Bruise vs. Hematoma

A bruise is a common injury marked by a discoloration of the skin. A bruise forms when blood from damaged blood cells beneath the skin pool near the skin’s surface. Bruises can come in many colors, including red, light brown, blue, purple, black, yellow, and green. Bruises usually form after a person bumps into something, and the force of impact leaves a mark. Athletes can also get bruised from microscopic tears in blood vessels below the skin. Older people tend to bruise more easily because the skin thins with age and the tissues supporting the underlying blood vessels become more fragile. People taking blood-thinning medication also tend to bruise more easily. Although they can look alarming, bruises often heal on their own and do not require medical attention.

Hematomas are similar to bruises, but they are more serious and require medical treatment. They are deeper, larger, have more swelling, and develop faster than bruises. Hematomas on the face, head, and abdomen can cause severe symptoms.

A bruise or hematoma on your abdomen may cause swelling, tenderness, and pain. A hematoma on the head may cause headaches, nausea, vomiting, confusion, and slurred speech. A septal hematoma may make the nose and the area under the eyes look bruised and swollen, sometimes accompanied by nosebleeds or clear liquid coming from the nose. If you have any of the symptoms above following trauma to the head, face, or abdomen, you need to seek medical attention right away to avoid serious complications.

When to get medical attention for a bruise

Besides the symptoms listed above, there are other occasions when you need to seek medical care for a bruise. If you have a bruise that does not heal and disappear after two weeks, you need to see a doctor. Frequent bruising, especially large and painful bruising, requires medical attention. If you feel numb or weak anywhere on the bruised limb, or you lose function in the area, it’s time to go to the doctor.

If the bruise spreads and grows, increasing in size or density, or there is a lump under the bruise, see a doctor. You should also seek medical attention if there is a potential broken bone, trauma in the neck or head, or vision impairment. Unexplained bruising, particularly on the head, abdomen, or backside, could indicate a problem with an internal organ and needs to be treated by a medical professional. If you have concerns about any bruising, a doctor can help diagnose and treat the cause of your bruise.

Types of injuries treated at an urgent care center

An urgent care center can help get to the bottom of what’s causing your bruise, diagnose whether it is a bruise or a hematoma, prescribe medication, and recommend treatment for any underlying conditions. Your healthcare provider can help with any of the issues and symptoms outlined above. Whether you have a septal bruise accompanied by a nosebleed, a problem with an internal organ causing bruising, or numbness around a bruise, your provider can put your mind at ease and help you get back to health. For same-day acute injury treatment, visit AFC Urgent Care Stoneham today!

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