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Health

Here's Why You Actually Bruise So Easily

Funny, you don't remember falling down a flight of stairs...

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Ever wonder why your arms and legs are bruised AF after very little trauma? Or ever get a bruise that you actually cannot explain?

Same. To figure out why some people seem to bruise more easily than others, BuzzFeed Life spoke with Dr. Steven Lamm, clinical professor of medicine and medical director of the Tisch Center for Men's Health at NYU Langone Medical Center, and Dr. Jeremy Fenton, of the Schweiger Dermatology Group.
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Same. To figure out why some people seem to bruise more easily than others, BuzzFeed Life spoke with Dr. Steven Lamm, clinical professor of medicine and medical director of the Tisch Center for Men's Health at NYU Langone Medical Center, and Dr. Jeremy Fenton, of the Schweiger Dermatology Group.

First things first: Bruises are caused by tiny injuries to your blood vessels.

Here's how a bruise is formed: You walk into your bed and your shin smacks the frame. Underneath your skin, that bump causes some of your blood vessels in the area to break, and blood begins to collect and pool outside the vessels — kind of like a hole being punched in a tire and air leaking out, explains Lamm. Then the blood that leaked from your blood vessels seeps from the dermis (the second layer of skin) and collects in the epidermis (the first layer of skin), which creates that purplish bruise on your leg. So why do you get bruises all the damn time — even when you don't remember getting hurt? Here are some possible explanations:
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Here's how a bruise is formed: You walk into your bed and your shin smacks the frame. Underneath your skin, that bump causes some of your blood vessels in the area to break, and blood begins to collect and pool outside the vessels — kind of like a hole being punched in a tire and air leaking out, explains Lamm. Then the blood that leaked from your blood vessels seeps from the dermis (the second layer of skin) and collects in the epidermis (the first layer of skin), which creates that purplish bruise on your leg.

So why do you get bruises all the damn time — even when you don't remember getting hurt? Here are some possible explanations:

1. You can get bruises from your workout.

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Exercise bruises are very common in people who lift heavy weight and push themselves hard when working out, says Lamm. These form because tiny fibers — muscle fibers and connective tissue fibers, which have blood vessels — are being torn, which can cause bleeding. They're usually smaller and will show up on the skin over the muscles you've strained.

You can prevent these by giving your body time to recover after hard days of working out (so you can better handle the strain you're putting on your muscles) and reducing your intensity.

2. You might have some genetic characteristics that make you more prone to bruises.

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Lamm says that some people — around 18% of the population — bruise more easily than average because of a few genetic characteristics that affect how the body responds to impact, which causes bruises. This includes more fragile blood vessels, lower platelet count, or clotting deficiencies.

3. Having fair skin could also be related to your constant bruises.

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"Many doctors also believe that fairer people bruise easier than others," says Lamm. "There isn't a study that scientifically proves why this happens. They may have more fragile blood vessels, but it's not just because bruises are more visible with their skin color as opposed to people with darker skin."

4. Certain over-the-counter medications can make you bruise more easily.

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Lamm says anti-inflammatory drugs (like aspirin or ibuprofen) can affect bruising, because they mess with your blood's ability to clot and plug up broken blood vessels, which can increase bleeding and bruising underneath your skin when you bump into something. A few others that can interfere with clotting are vitamin E, ginkgo biloba, and birth control.

5. And so can most steroids.

"Steroids also negatively affect the strength and health of your blood vessels," Lamm says. "Easier bruisability is one of the well known symptoms of being on anabolic steroids, steroids for allergies, and steroids for inflammation. The people who are already genetically predisposed to bruising will be the most susceptible to increased bruising from taking steroids."
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"Steroids also negatively affect the strength and health of your blood vessels," Lamm says. "Easier bruisability is one of the well known symptoms of being on anabolic steroids, steroids for allergies, and steroids for inflammation. The people who are already genetically predisposed to bruising will be the most susceptible to increased bruising from taking steroids."

6. You'll also bruise easier if you're really low on vitamin C.

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"Being vitamin C deficient affects the strength of your blood vessels," Lamm says. "This is why people with scurvy would get black and blue marks all over their body."

7. Or if you need to up your protein intake.

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If you’re not getting enough protein, that can affect the health and strength of the collagen in your skin and blood vessels, says Fenton.

Collagen is found all throughout your body and is important because it helps give your skin its strength, structure, and elasticity. The tougher your skin, the more protection your blood vessels will have from everyday wear and tear, and that means fewer bruises.

8. Most people are also more likely to bruise on their arms and legs.

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For starters, they're super easy to bump into things. "They are also where your skin is the thinnest, which means less protection for your blood vessels," says Lamm.

9. And you're more likely to bruise in places where you have sun damage.

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Constant sun damage to your skin thins it and weakens it, making it less capable of protecting your blood vessels, says Fenton. So remember: SUNSCREEN.

10. You'll probably bruise a lot easier as you get older.

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Fenton says bruising is very common in elderly people because not only have they lost collagen in their skin, but the collagen that they still have isn't as healthy as it was when they were younger. And as you get older, you may also lose body fat (so it's easier to see the bruises) and take more blood-thinning medications.

11. And drinking can definitely lead to more bruises.

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Alcohol can thin your blood, increasing your risk of bruising, says Fenton. That's why you shouldn't drink right after surgery, exercising, or playing a contact sport. Plus, drinking excessive amounts of alcohol can affect your liver, bone marrow, and spleen, which all play a role in your body's production of working platelets, how many platelets are circulating throughout your bloodstream, and the clotting process, says Lamm.

Also, alcohol has a tendency to make you fall and bump into things like it's your job.

12. You may also bruise easily if you lose a ton of weight super quickly.

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Losing a lot of body fat can make bruises more visible, and malnutrition can also affect your blood vessels. "Some people who lose weight rapidly will have easy bruisability," Lamm says. "There is no way of predicting which individuals who lose weight will develop bruising."

13. But if constant random bruising is something new for you, it could be a sign of another medical condition — so get that checked out.

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If you haven't always bruised easily and now you're noticing lots of random black and blues, check with your doctor about that. Lamm says to also be aware of abnormal bruising that happens along with constant nosebleeds, bleeding gums, or blood in your poop. If this happens consistently, it could be a sign of a blood disorder, so see a doctor to rule that out.

14. And if you've always bruised pretty easily, don't worry. That's totally normal.

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Like we said before, some people are just genetically predisposed to bruise more easily. So even if you think you have way more bruises than the average person — but you have all your life — you probably have nothing to worry about, says Lamm.

So what the hell can you do to stop all those black and blues from popping up?

Lamm suggests a few remedies: — Applying ice to the injured area right after impact may minimize or even prevent bruising. This is because it helps constrict the blood vessels, giving the platelets more time to react and clog the vessel, lessening the amount of blood that's able to flow out of the damaged area. — If you have a large bruise, try cold compresses for 10 minutes, followed by warm compresses for 2 minutes. — Keeping an injury elevated above your heart can also reduce the size of your bruise. — And keeping your body healthy with a balanced diet and lifestyle wouldn't hurt either.
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Lamm suggests a few remedies:

— Applying ice to the injured area right after impact may minimize or even prevent bruising. This is because it helps constrict the blood vessels, giving the platelets more time to react and clog the vessel, lessening the amount of blood that's able to flow out of the damaged area.

— If you have a large bruise, try cold compresses for 10 minutes, followed by warm compresses for 2 minutes.

— Keeping an injury elevated above your heart can also reduce the size of your bruise.

— And keeping your body healthy with a balanced diet and lifestyle wouldn't hurt either.

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