A bruise, or ecchymosis, is a traumatic injury in which blood vessels are broken but the tissues surrounding them remain intact. Typical signs and symptoms of bruises include swelling, inflammation, discoloration and pain. As bruises heal, they change colors from green to yellow, signaling that the blood within the bruise is being reabsorbed by the body.
First aid for bruises includes the application of cold compresses then a firm bandage to prevent swelling. A day or two later, heat should be applied and then gentle massage.
Bruises of the head, chest or abdomen may be a cause for concern, as they could be tied to internal injuries. Although the symptoms are the same, the extent of injury can be much farther. Patient care requires the taking of the exact cause and location of the injury; a thorough inspection of the bruise including the location, color, size, discomfort and other characteristics; and the assessment of other injuries. Patients who have suspected head injuries should be given a neurological status exam every hour or as recommended by the physician.
Bruises are set on a scale from zero to five:
- zero: light bruise, no damage
- one: light bruise, little damage
- two: moderate bruise, some damage
- three: serious bruise, dangerous
- four: extremely serious bruise, dangerous
- five: critical bruise, risk of death