The Real Reason You Bruise So Easily

The occasional bruise is virtually inevitable, but those that show up with zero explanation can be alarming. Here's what may be causing them.

Closeup on a Bruise on wounded woman leg skinStephane Bidouze/Shutterstock

Everyone gets bruises. You can expect to see purple when you knock your leg into a table or jam your elbow into a wall, but if you have mysterious bruises appearing everywhere or lingering longer than a month, your love of the sun may be to blame.

The problem stems from a compromised layer in your skin, which has three layers: the epidermis (the outer layer), dermis (the middle layer, which also contains spongy collagen), and hypodermis (the lowest layer). When you bump up against a hard object, you can burst tiny blood vessels called capillaries in your skin. They leak blood that gets trapped just below the skin’s epidermis, and the result is a colorful bruise. Luckily, you can treat it with this doctor-approved way to get rid of bruises faster.

If your skin layers are strong enough, they can act as a barrier that protects those blood vessels and you’ll bruise less. According to the Mayo Clinic, your genetics, medications, supplements, and certain conditions can leave you more likely to bruise. Another issue? The sun’s harmful UV rays: It breaks down that cushy collagen, and without that padding, your capillaries are more vulnerable to impact.

Collagen also helps explain why women tend to bruise more easily than men—male skin has a thicker collagen layer. You can minimize bruising, notes the Cleveland Clinic; just make sure you meet your daily requirements for vitamins B12, C, K, and folic acid. These nutrients help keep your capillaries strong and flexible.

Sunscreen is also key. It not only protects against sunburns, but it will also protect your collagen. Here are the best sunscreens for every kind of activity.

If you find that bruises continue to appear mysteriously, especially on your trunk or face, see your doctor: It could be a sign that your blood is missing key components that help it clot.

Next, don’t miss these explanations for 11 other mysterious marks on your skin.

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Hana Hong
Hana Hong is a journalist/storyteller whose writing has appeared in many publications and websites, including Reader's Digest, InStyle, CollegeFashionista, Her Campus, and The Fashion Network, among others. She hails from the midwest, where she graduated from the University of Illinois with a B.A. in News-Editorial Journalism, but has a passion for the East Coast. Visit her website: Hana Hong.