Bruises are typically blue and black marks that appear on the skin usually after an injury or a bump. The blood vessels get damaged and the blood from these damaged vessels collect beneath the skin near the skin surface, leading to an appearance of skin bruising. You may know of people who have unexplained bruising on some body parts and do not have a reason for that or you yourself might have experience of that. This kind of happening might seem harmless but it could be an indication of a serious underlying disorder.

What Causes Unexplained Bruising on Arm?

There could be several reasons why bruising on arms or any other area of the body occur. These reasons could range from benign to potentially life threatening. Let us discuss some of these reasons:

Common Causes: These are some of the common causes that result in bruising on the arms. These are not serious conditions and the bruises generally disappear after some time.

1. Sensitive skin: Some individuals have a very sensitive skin and even a slightest injury to the skin can result in rupturing of the blood vessels, leading to bruising.

2. Doing heavy exercises: Doing heavy and rigorous exercise can also result in bruising in individuals such as weightlifters and athletes. These bruises occur from microscopic tears in the blood vessels present under the skin.

3. Contusion: Contusions result when damage to blood vessels occur, leading to discoloration. Contusion could happen when you hit a bed post while turning and tossing in bed or even when performing any other activity.

4. Allergies: Bruising of skin can result from allergic reaction to an allergen. Some of these allergens include cosmetic products such as perfumes, creams, clothes, food products, certain medicines and insect bites.

5. Aging: In elderly individuals the skin becomes thin and the tissues underlying the skin weaken. Moreover, the walls of the blood capillaries become fragile, making them more susceptible to bruising.

6. Deficiency of Vitamins: Deficiency of vitamins such as Vitamin B12, Vitamin C and Vitamin K can lead to easy bruising on arms.

Medical Causes: What you may regard as an unexplained bruise may represent some underlying medical condition. If unexplained bruising occurs very frequently, then it is recommended to visit a physician and get yourself checked for the following conditions:

1. Iron deficiency Anemia: Hemoglobin levels become low due to iron deficiency anemia and that happens to be one of the main causes of easy bruising. Other symptoms of anemia include, fatigue, brittle nails, weakness, sore tongue, paleness, dark tar-color in stools, lightheadedness and dizziness while standing.

2. Von Willebrand Disease: This disease is characterized by prevention of blood clotting. One of the most common symptoms of this disease is easy bruising.

3. Leukemia: Leukemia or blood cancer is characterized by easy bruising as one of the major symptoms. The platelet count is considerably decreased in leukemia which results in easy bruising. Other symptoms include fatigue, frequent infections, appearance of painless lumps on the neck, groin or stomach and underarms, paleness, plumpness and pain in the ribs.

4. Blood disorders: There are several types of blood disorders including hemophilia which result in easy bruising.

5. Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura (ITP): This disease is quite common in young females and is linked to Celiac disease. In ITP, the platelets are destroyed by the immune system of the body thereby decreasing clotting of blood. Symptoms include easy bruising, profuse bleeding resulting in red, blue patches on the arms, legs and the trunk. ITP can also cause heavy menstrual flows and internal bleeding, nose bleeding, bleeding of gums, random bruising and extended fatigue.

6. Diabetes: Diabetes can affect circulation, making it easier to bruise. Patients suffering from diabetes can have high blood sugar levels which can damage blood vessels and lead to bruising. Other symptoms of diabetes include excessive thirst, fatigue, blurred vision, frequency of urination and difficulty in fighting with infections.

7. Thrombocytopenia: This is a clotting disorder, which leads to low platelet count. A low platelet count ups the chances of unexplained bruising on arm. Thrombocytopenia often occurs secondary to certain other condition such as an immune disorder, pregnancy or leukemia.

Other Reasons: There are certain other reasons that can cause unexplained bruising including:

1. Sun exposure: Due to excessive sun exposure the fatty layers of the skin are lost. Once this cushion is lost, the blood vessels are exposed to sun damage leading to bruising.

2. Side effects of certain medicines: There are certain medicines that can lead to easy bruising due to either an allergic reaction or thinning of blood. Some of these medicines that can lead to easy bruising are: steroids such as prednisone, dexamethasone; painkillers such as aspirin, naproxen; anticoagulants such as warfarin and heparin; antidepressants, birth control pills and asthma medicines.

Home Remedies for a Bruise

The treatment for unexplained bruising on arm is most effective immediately right after you notice it.

  • Apply a cold compress such as a bag of frozen vegetables or an ice pack to the affected area for around 20-30 minutes. Ice should not be applied directly to the skin and should be wrapped in a towel.

  • The area should be kept elevated from the level of the heart during the first 24 hours.

  • You can take acetaminophen to reduce pain as directed. Ibuprofen or aspirin should be avoided as they slow the speed of clotting of blood and may in fact make the bruise worse.

  • Applying a warm washcloth to the bruise after around 48 hours for 10 minutes, 2 to 3 times a day may increase the blood flow to the affected area; thereby making the skin reabsorb the blood faster. Ultimately the color of the bruise will 

When to Go to a Doctor

  • You should seek medical advice if the bruise is accompanied by extreme pain and swelling, and especially if you are on a blood thinning medicine for a medical illness.

  • Seek medical advice if you often bruise for no apparent reason or it occurs easily.

  • Call the doctor if bruise is under a fingernail.

  • Seek medical advice if the bruise does not improve after two weeks or does not completely clear after 3 or 4 weeks.

  • Visit an emergency room if you think that along with the bruise you have a broken bone.


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