Skip to main content
Go to homepage

Print Page

What's a Bruise?

If you're an active kid — or are a little clumsy — you've probably had a bruise or two. But what are those funny-colored marks on your body, exactly?

A bruise is also called a contusion (say: kun-TOO-zhun). Some people bruise easily, while others have tougher skin tissue.

How Do Bruises Happen?

Bruises form when the soft tissues of the body get bumped. When they do, small veins and capillaries (the tiniest blood vessels) under the skin sometimes break. Red blood cells leak out of these blood vessels. These red blood cells that collect under your skin cause that bluish, purplish, reddish, or blackish mark. That's where black-and-blue marks get their name — from their color under the skin.

Bruises go through colorful changes as the body begins to heal itself. The color changes mean that your body is metabolizing (say: meh-TAB-oh-lye-zing), or breaking down, the blood cells in the skin. This is the process that your body goes through to repair itself.

The Phases of a Bruise

Imagine a baseball hits you in the leg. Ouch! Your body will go through these phases:

  • First, you'll probably have a bump that will look red or purplish and tender. The bump might swell from the blood collecting under the tissue.
  • After a couple of days, the bruise will look blue or even blackish.
  • After 5 to 10 days, it may look greenish or even yellow.
  • After 10 to 14 days, the bruise will most likely be a light brown, then get lighter and lighter as it fades away.

How Long Do Bruises Last?

Most bruises will disappear after 2 weeks, and some go away even sooner. If a bruise does not go away after 2 weeks, let your parent know.

To help reduce swelling or the amount of bruising after an injury, apply a cold compress to the bruise for at least 10 minutes. And be sure to wear a helmet and protective pads to help you avoid getting bruises!

Reviewed by: KidsHealth Medical Experts
Date Reviewed: 00-00-0000

Lea este articulo en Español

What next?

Summit Mall Play Area
Answer Key:
Click to expand
There are 10 nurses in the picture.

And we have many more pediatric primary care providers in Northeast Ohio. You can meet some of them here.
Summit Mall Play Area
Answer Key:
Click to expand
The five differences are:
– Phone color
– Coat pocket
– Stethoscope earpiece color
– Stethoscope bell dot
– Clipboard paper color

Need help finding a doctor, choosing a location or getting a general question about Akron Children's answered? Call us or fill out the form and we'll help in any way we can.
Summit Mall Play Area
Answer Key:
Click to expand
The two matching doctors are 9 and 14.

With virtual visits, you can see our pediatric experts from the comfort of home or wherever you are.
Summit Mall Play Area
Answer Key:
Click to expand
The correct path:
The Correct Path
We offer many ways to get pediatric care all over Northeast Ohio. Use this page to find the right kind of care and the most convenient location for you.