Are you experiencing easy bruising? Here’s how to understand what causes this symptom.
If you’re unfortunate enough to experience a hard bump or injury to the skin, you expect to see the formation of an ugly bruise; but, sometimes bruises can appear without injury or blunt trauma. This can, understandably, be a source of concern. What causes bruising for no reason and what should you do about it?
What causes bruising in the first place?
Most bruises form when there is blunt force to the surface of the skin, causing bleeding underneath the skin surface to occur. This gives rise to the characteristic discoloration visible underneath the skin known as a bruise. Bruises can vary in size and color depending upon the severity of the injury, the age and sex of the person experiencing it, as well as the medications they’re taking. Although trauma is the most common cause of bruising, certain medical conditions can cause bruising for no apparent reason, even when blunt trauma hasn’t occurred.
What are the most common causes of bruising for no reason?
If you experience bruising for no reason, you’re justifiably concerned about how those bruises may have gotten there. In many cases, bruising for no obvious reason is related to a bump you don’t remember getting. This is particularly true if you’re taking certain medications that alter the activity of platelets, blood components which play an important role in blood clotting. A minor bump to the surface of the skin when you’re on particular medications can make bruising more likely to occur.
What types of medications cause easy bruising?
Three of the most common types of medications that can increase the risk of bruising are non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications, aspirin, and blood thinners such as Warfarin. Even some natural supplements such as fish oils, gingko, ginger, and garlic can cause bruising with only minor trauma. These foods and supplements have natural blood thinning properties that can cause bleeding under the skin to occur more readily. Steroid based anti-inflammatory medications such as prednisone can also enhance bruising. If you’re experiencing easy bruising, ask your doctor if your medications could be playing a role.
More serious causes of bruising for no reason: Platelet problems
In some cases, easy bruising can be a sign of a more serious health problem. When the body doesn’t produce enough platelets or the platelets that are produced don’t function properly, bruising can occur even in the absence of injury. Certain types of cancer such as leukemia can cause platelet counts to drop which can lead to bruising. If this is the case, there may be bleeding with slight trauma such as when brushing the teeth or frequent nosebleeds may occur. Certain chronic diseases can also cause a drop in platelet count or abnormal platelet function. If bruising for no reason occurs, it’s important to get a complete blood count drawn by your doctor to determine if platelet levels are normal.
Problems with clotting factors
Another cause of bruising for no reason are clotting factor abnormalities. For blood to clot properly, a group of specific clotting factors must interact with one another in a harmonious manner. If one of these factors is deficient or isn’t functioning properly, easy bruising can be the result. Genetic deficiencies in clotting factors can occur, or conditions such as liver disease or pregnancy can alter these factors giving rise to bruising without obvious injury. Your doctor can do special lab tests to determine if you have clotting factor abnormalities.
Bruising for no reason also becomes more common with age as the capillaries become more fragile and the skin become thinner. The bottom line? If you’re experiencing easy bruising, particularly if you have bleeding gums or nosebleeds, see your doctor for a complete blood count.