A contusion is when blood vessels are damaged or broken after an injury. Blood and fluid then leak from the injured blood vessels into the tissue. This results in a discolored, purplish area in the skin. It takes 2 to 3 weeks to go away. A contusion is also called a bruise.
Contusion of Skin
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Contusions are usually caused by bumps to the skin. This may happen from falling, bumping into something, or being hit, or kicked.
Almost everyone gets contusions. Those with a higher risk are:
Contusions may cause:
Contusions are diagnosed by physical exam of the skin.
The goal is to reduce swelling and pain by:
Using proper safety equipment can help prevent contusions.
American Academy of Family Physicians
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Canadian Health Network
Anticoagulation overview. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/drug-review/anticoagulation-overview. Accessed February 23, 2021.
Bruises. Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital website. Available at:
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Accessed February 23, 2021.
Neutze D, Roque J. Clinical evaluation of bleeding and bruising in primary care. Am Fam Physician. 2016;93(4):279-286.
Last reviewed January 2021 by Mary Beth Seymour, RN
Last Updated: 2/23/2021