That is what Charlie use to say. Charlie was an elderly gentleman that my mother in law use to take to the doctors and out to lunch. This saying might be a bit extreme, but as we age, it seems like every time we turn around some area of our body is bruised and we don’t even know how it happened… So why is this? Why do we bruise?
Let’s first talk about our skin and its function. We have three layers: epidermis, dermis and subcutaneous fat. Knowing what these layers do is important to un
derstanding bruising, etc.
- The skin’s top layer.
- It’s primary functions are: making new skin cells and protecting your body.
- The skin’s middle layer.
- Is where the work happens
- the sweat glands
- nerve endings,
- hair growth,
- oil generation (more problematic for adolescents)
- home of the blood vessels and capillaries
- Subcutaneous fat
- The bottom layer of skin
- Attaches the dermis to our muscles and bones
- The pathway for your blood vessels and nerve cells to the rest of your body from here.
- Controlling your body temperature (that’s why those jackets come out even in warm weather as one ages)
- Provides padding and protection from bumps/falls to your muscles and bones
As we age, our skin cells divide more slowly and skin begins to thin. Skin retains less moisture, causing it to become dry, scaly, and appear wrinkled. It loses its elasticity and instead of springing back, starts to sag. The skin’s ability to repair itself diminishes, and wounds are slower to heal. Blood vessels become more fragile. Most bruises occur when those small blood vessels (capillaries) near the skin’s surface are broken (because they are so fragile). How often do we hit our arm or leg on something and we see those bruises? Darn walls and coffee tables!
Effects of Medications
- Anti-coagulate medications: reduce your blood’s ability to clot, which allows more blood to leak out and cause a bigger bruise.
- . These include:
- Aspirin and ibuprofen,
- anticoagulant medications such as Coumadin® (warfarin), and
- anti-platelet agents, like Plavix® (clopidogrel bisulfate).
- Antibiotics might also be associated with clotting problems.
- Topical and systemic corticosteroids — which can be used to treat various conditions, including allergies, asthma and eczema — cause your skin to thin, making it easier to bruise.
- Ginkgo – a dietary supplement that people may take for “energy”, has a blood-thinning effect. (Please be mindful of supplements, especially if taking other medications)
Always check with your physician and review your medications, their side effects, and potential interaction with one another.
Nutritional to strengthen blood vessels
Dietary bioflavonoids that contain rutin are believed to produce collagen and utilize vitamin C which some feel can help strengthen blood vessels and reduce bruising. Rutin can be found in apples, dark-colored berries (mulberries and cranberries), dark leafy greens, garlic, onions, buckwheat, most citrus, figs, and both black and green tea.
Your skin and the layers of the skin
General discussion about bruising