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
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.


Contusions are usually caused by bumps to the skin. This may happen from falling, bumping into something, or being hit, or kicked.

Risk Factors

Almost everyone gets contusions. Those with a higher risk are:

  • Children and teens
  • People who play contact sports
  • People with blood-clotting problems
  • People taking blood-thinners, such as aspirin



Contusions may cause:

  • Skin discoloration—usually blue and/or purple, fading to yellow
  • Pain
  • Swelling


Contusions are diagnosed by physical exam of the skin.



The goal is to reduce swelling and pain by:

  • Applying ice or a cold pack to the injured area
  • Elevating the injured area above the level of the heart
  • Taking pain medicine, as advised by the doctor


Using proper safety equipment can help prevent contusions.

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

Edits to original content made by Denver Health.

a (Bruise)


American Academy of Family Physicians 

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 


Canadian Health Network 

Health Canada  


Anticoagulation overview. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Accessed February 23, 2021.

Bruises. Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital website. Available at: 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.