What causes bruises easily? 28 possible conditions

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Definition

Bruising easily means that the small blood vessels (capillaries) beneath the skin break easily and frequently. They then leak blood into the surrounding tissue and create discolorations.

Alternative Names

Easy bruising, or increased tendency to bruise.

Overview

Most of us get bruises from bumping into something from time to time. Bruising sometimes increases with age. This is especially true in women as the capillary walls become more fragile and the skin becomes thin. Medications that may increase a person’s tendency to bleed include:

  • aspirin
  • warfarin
  • steroids
  • clopidogrel
  • other medications used to prevent clotting (blood thinners)

The occasional bruise typically doesn’t cause much medical concern. If you’re bruising easily, with large bruises or bleeding elsewhere it could be a sign of a serious medical condition that warrants attention.

It’s important to be aware that unexplained bruising may be a sign of domestic violence or abuse. Your doctors are required by law to ask you questions to make sure you are safe in your domestic situation.

Associated Diagnoses

Other diagnoses or associated conditions that can cause easy bruising include:

  • acquired platelet function disorder
  • brittle bone disease
  • celiac disease
  • Christmas disease
  • chronic kidney failure
  • Cushings syndrome
  • end stage kidney disease
  • factor II deficiency
  • factor V deficiency
  • factor VII deficiency
  • factor X deficiency
  • german measles
  • glomerulonephritis
  • hairy cell leukemia
  • leukemia
  • hemophila A
  • low platelet count
  • medullary cystic disease
  • paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria
  • Von Willebrand disease

Diagnosis and Treatment

Blood tests will probably be done to measure the level of platelets and the time it takes your blood to coagulate (clot). If there is swelling and pain with bruising, the first line of treatment is to apply a cold compress. If an extremity is involved, elevate the arm or leg and apply a cold compress for 20 minutes until the swelling is reduced. After the swelling is reduced, you may apply a warm compress to help reabsorb the blood.

When To Call Your Doctor

Call your doctor if you’re bruising more frequently than usual and if bruising is accompanied by bleeding from anywhere else, such as in the urine.

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See a list of possible causes in order from the most common to the least.

1

Low Platelet Count (Thrombocytopenia)

A low platelet count, also called thrombocytopenia, affects your blood's ability to clot. This can cause red, purple, or brown bruising, prolonged bleeding, and nosebleeds.

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2

Leukemia

Leukemia is a cancer of the blood cells. Excessive sweating at night, constant fatigue, weight loss, bone pain, and easy bleeding or bruising are all signs of this disease.

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3

Factor X Deficiency

Factor X deficiency, also called Stuart-Prower factor deficiency, is a condition caused by not having enough of the protein known as factor X (ten) in your blood. A common symptom is easy bruising.

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4

Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura (ITP)

Idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP) is a disorder where the blood doesn

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5

Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation (DIC)

Disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC) is a rare, life-threatening condition that prevents blood from clotting normally. The blood clots reduce blood flow and can block blood from reaching bodily organs. Thi...

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6

Factor II Deficiency

Factor II deficiency is a very rare blood clotting disorder caused by a lack of prothrombin, a protein that helps blood clot. Severe cases may cause unexplained bruising, bleeding gums, and nosebleeds.

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7

Factor V Deficiency

Factor V deficiency is a very rare blood clotting disorder also known as Owren's disease or parahemophilia. It results in slow or prolonged blood clotting, bruising, and nosebleeds.

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8

Hemophilia A

Hemophilia A (factor VIII deficiency) is the most common form of the blood clotting disorder hemophilia. It can cause prolonged bleeding, tight joints, and unexplained bruising.

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9

Factor VII Deficiency

Factor VII deficiency is a blood clotting disorder due to a deficiency in factor VII, a protein produced in the liver. It can cause bruising and soft tissue bleeding.

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10

Christmas Disease (Hemophilia B)

Also called hemophilia B or factor IX hemophilia, Christmas disease is a rare genetic disorder in which your blood does not clot properly. A common symptom is unexplained or excessive bruising.

Read more »

11

Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia

Acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL) is the most common cancer in childhood, although it can also occur in adults. ALL is a cancer of the blood and bone marrow. Cancer occurs when abnormal cells in a part of the body begi...

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12

Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia (CML)

Leukemia is a type of cancer that starts in the blood or blood-forming tissues. There are many different types of leukemia, and treatment is different for each one. Chronic leukemias are slower growing than acut...

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13

Acquired Platelet Function Disorder

Platelets are a type of blood cell. They play an important role in healing from injuries. Platelets help your body to form blood clots and stop bleeding. Some people’s platelets don’t function the way the...

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14

Kidney Failure

Kidney failure occurs when the kidneys lose the ability to sufficiently filter waste from the blood. Many factors can interfere with kidney health and function, such as toxic exposure to environmental pollutants an...

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15

Acute Myeloid Leukemia

Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is a cancer that occurs in the blood and the marrow of the bones. Marrow is sponge-like material inside the bones that produces blood cells. AML specifically affects the white blood cells o...

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16

Chronic Kidney Disease

Chronic kidney disease is a progressive, irreversible destruction of the kidneys. The most common causes are high blood pressure and diabetes. Symptoms don't show until about 90 percent of the kidney has been destroyed.

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17

End-Stage Kidney Disease

End-stage kidney disease is the final stage of kidney disease. Signs include an inability to urinate, headache, change in skin color, excessive thirst, and swelling in the legs and hands.

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18

Glomerulonephritis

Glomerulonephritis occurs when blood filtering vessels in the kidneys are damaged. This may contribute to kidney failure, which causes fatigue, insomnia, itchy skin, and other symptoms.

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19

Hairy Cell Leukemia

Hairy cell leukemia (HCL) is a rare type of blood and bone marrow cancer that affects the B-lymphocytes (a type of white blood cells that make antibodies that fight infections). If you have HCL, your body produces ...

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20

German Measles (Rubella)

German measles, also known as rubella, is a rare viral condition. One of its symptoms is a pink rash that begins on the face and spreads downward.

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This feature is for informational purposes only and should not be used to diagnose.
Please consult a healthcare professional if you have health concerns.
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