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Quick Facts

Bruising and Bleeding


The Manual's Editorial Staff

Last full review/revision Sep 2020| Content last modified Sep 2020
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Bruising or bleeding after an injury is normal.

However, some people have blood clotting disorders that cause them to bruise or bleed too easily, such as after very minor injuries or even no injury.

  • Bleeding is most common from the nose, mouth, or digestive tract

  • Bleeding into your brain is less common but very dangerous

  • Common causes of excessive bleeding include liver disease, low platelet count, and certain medicines

  • Less often, you inherited a bleeding problem from your parents

  • Doctors do blood tests to find the cause of excessive bleeding

What causes easy bruising and bleeding?

A blood clot is a clump of material that your body makes to plug up a bleeding blood vessel. Blood clots are made up of things in your bloodstream, including:

  • Platelets (cell-like blood particles)

  • Special proteins called clotting factors

Problems with either platelets or clotting factors can keep your blood from clotting properly. The result is excessive bleeding or bruising.

A platelet problem can involve:

  • Too few platelets

  • Too many platelets

  • Platelets that don’t work correctly

  • Use of anti-platelet medicines, such as aspirin or NSAIDs (such as ibuprofen)

Certain cancers and severe infections can cause platelet problems.

A clotting factor problem can be caused by:

You may bruise easily just because your blood vessels are more fragile than usual (a condition called purpura simplex). This is common and is rarely a cause for concern if you have no other signs of excess bleeding.

What are the symptoms of a bleeding disorder?

Symptoms of a bleeding disorder include:

  • Unexplained nosebleeds

  • Continued bleeding after minor cuts, blood tests, minor surgery or dental work, or tooth brushing or flossing

  • Unexplained marks on your skin, including red or purple dots, bruises, and small blood vessels that are visible in your skin

  • Extra or long bleeding during your period if you're a woman

When should I see a doctor?

Go to a doctor right away if you bleed or bruise easily and have any of these warning signs:

  • Can't stop bleeding

  • Are vomiting up blood or old blood (dark particles that look like coffee grounds)

  • Are pooping blood or black, tar-like material

  • Have symptoms of serious blood loss, such as sweating, weakness, or feeling faint, dizzy, sick to your stomach, or overly thirsty

  • Are pregnant or recently gave birth

  • Have signs of infection, such as fever, chills, diarrhea, feeling ill all over

  • Have brain symptoms, such as headache and confusion

If you don’t have warning signs but notice that you bleed or bruise easily, you should call your doctor.

What will happen at my doctor’s visit?

Doctors ask questions about your symptoms and medical history and do a physical exam. You'll usually also need:

  • Blood tests

How do doctors treat easy bruising and bleeding?

Doctors treat the specific cause of your bruising or bleeding, such as:

  • Stopping medicines that cause bleeding

  • Having you take vitamin K for vitamin K deficiency

  • Treating a cancer or infection

Sometimes doctors will give you platelets or clotting factors in a vein.

NOTE: This is the Consumer Version. DOCTORS: Click here for the Professional Version
Click here for the Professional Version
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