Bruises that Itch: Possible Causes and Treatments
A bruise is a common skin injury which can appear due to trauma. A trauma can be a cut or blow to any part of the body. It results in discoloration of the skin.
Blood from damaged blood cells, deep beneath the skin, collects near the surface of the skin. It leaves a black and blue mark on the skin.
Bruises that itch and won’t go away are generally those bruises which are in the healing process.
The body clears the pooled blood under the skin. The accumulation of bilirubin in a bruise, as it heals, causes the area to itch.
A bruise that itches is a common phenomenon. You need not panic about it unless it is intense and shows symptoms like swelling or fever. There are several ways to treat itching bruises but let us first see how they are formed.
Related Reading: Unexplained Bruises on The Legs: Common Causes and Treatments
How are Bruises Formed?
It is foremost important to understand how bruises that itch form. Bruises form when the tiny blood vessels, also known as capillaries, in the skin break.
It may happen as a result of traumatic injury or vigorous exercise. The blood collects in the tissues around the vessels.
In the beginning, bruises don’t itch. They develop as pink or red colored discoloration in the skin due to hemoglobin. Bruises gradually develop a blue or purple color within few hours. It indicates the falling level of oxygen in the pooled blood.
Within five days, a chemical compound named biliverdin forms. It forms due to biochemical breakdown of hemoglobin. The bruises turn to greenish color.
Then comes the final healing stage. The bruises turn to pale yellow or brown depending on the level of bilirubin. The rising level of this chemical compound can cause a deep bruise to itch.
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Possible Causes of Bruises that Itch
Why do bruises itch? The primary cause of a bruise as already discussed is trauma or vigorous exercise. Unexplained bruising can appear on thigh, leg, arm, or back that later turn itchy.
The bruises in leg take more time to heal than the arm or other parts. Sometimes the bruise can occur without any injury. Some causes for such itchy bruises are:
1. Old Age
Your skin contains a fatty tissue layer. It supports the blood vessels against external infringements. You lose a part of this tissue layer, and your skin turns thinner as you grow old.
Therefore, the older adults are more prone to bruises. The sun damage on the skin for years can also give rise to bruises that itch even due to walking.
2. Blood Disorder
Leukemia can also cause a deep bruise to itch when the reason for it isn’t apparent. It is a condition which reduces the ability of the body to produce platelets.
Leukemia can cause a bruise to appear in unlikely parts of the body like back. If nose bleed accompanies bruises that itch, see a doctor immediately.
3. Liver Diseases
Liver cirrhosis, hepatitis, and other problems may cause bruises that itch and won’t go away. These conditions cause inflammation in the liver.
They reduce the ability to clot and so the patient becomes more prone to bruises.
4. Genetic Issues
Bruises that itch can be genetic too. Unexplained itchy bruises can occur if you are born in a family with a history of the same.
5. Vascular Diseases
There are two types of vascular conditions which can lead to bruises that itch. One of them is purpuric dermatosis in which small bruises appear on the skin resembling cayenne pepper.
Another one is vasculitis in which bruises appear on the back of legs and thighs.
6. Blood-Thinning Medications
Warfarin, aspirin, and antiplatelet agents are also responsible for itchy bruises. They reduce the ability of blood clotting.
Such medications can lead to excessive bleeding. Women who use contraceptives can develop a bruise that itches and won’t go away quickly.
Women tend to bruise more on the upper arms, thighs, and buttocks than other parts.
Supplements like fish oil also have a similar effect on capillaries like the blood-thinning medicines.
Fish oil is a rich source of omega-3, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). It treats conditions like high blood pressure, painful menstruation, and depression.
Corticosteroids treat allergies, asthma, and similar diseases. They make the skin thinner and make it more vulnerable to developing bruises.
If you are on corticosteroids and you develop itchy bruises without an injury, consult a doctor.
A bruise will heal gradually if caused by an injury or trauma. Consult a doctor if you develop a bruise that occurs for no apparent reason.
Sometimes itching can lead to bruises. Common causes include fungal infections, dry skin, or insect bites. Women can develop itchy bruises when pregnant. Allergy and other factors are also responsible for the same.
Are Bruises that Itch a Sign of Underlying Problems?
Bruises that itch and won’t go away easily indicates skin problems, but you shouldn’t ignore them. Sometimes, it can be a more significant issue. It is primarily a reason to worry if it comes with symptoms like fever, dizziness, and swelling.
Bruises that itch can also be a sign of a liver condition known as Primary Biliary Cirrhosis (PBC). It damages the bile ducts in the liver. It is also responsible for inflammation and loss of bile ducts.
Bile and toxic wastes pile up in the liver. It leads to the development of scar tissues in the liver. It is a condition known as liver cirrhosis. The continued gradual buildup of scar tissues ultimately leads to liver failure. It can thus, necessitate a liver transplant.
The exact cause of PBC is not known. When the immune system attacks the bile ducts, PBC may develop. Alcohol and diet too may affect it.
Some people are more prone to PBC due to their inherited genes. Women have a higher risk of developing this autoimmune disease than men.
Smoking, infections, and contact with toxic compounds can also trigger primary biliary cirrhosis.
If you have persistent itching and unexplained bruising, seek medical attention immediately.
People suffering from primary biliary cirrhosis may suffer from various symptoms. Common symptoms are fatigue and dry eyes and mouth. They can also suffer from the altered sleeping pattern (sleepless nights and sleep days) and dizziness.
To treat PBC, doctors administrate medications to slow down the progression of liver damage. So don’t consider itchy bruises as only a skin problem.
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Home Remedies for Bruises that Itch
Bruises that itch and won’t go away can be a severe problem. They need to heal by the reabsorption of the leaked blood. Preventing further bleeding is also essential while soothing the itching.
Avoid scratching as it can make the bruising worse and put you at risk of infections. A person suffering from bruises might want to know, ‘how to treat bruises that itch?’
There are several remedies to cure itchy bruises. Here are some of the home remedies:
1. Heat Application
To improve blood circulation, apply heat to the bruised area of the skin. It helps in faster reabsorption of the blood.
Take a small clean towel. Dip it in warm water and then wring it out. Apply it to the bruised areas of the body. Let all the heat sink. Re-soak it in the water.
Repeat the process for about five minutes. You can also apply a heating pad or a bottle filled with warm water on the affected area.
Antihistamines can provide you relief from bruises that itch. Benadryl and Zyrtec are some common antihistamines you can easily find in the medical shop. Antihistamines do not have any side effect except that they cause drowsiness.
3. Rubbing Alcohol
Apply some rubbing alcohol on the bruise. It can cure any bruise that itches and won’t go away quickly. Vodka has turned out to be an effective remedy for itchy bruises.
4. Arnica Gel or Ointment
Arnica can stimulate blood circulation. This homeopathic remedy has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. It can cure acne, eczema, ulcers, and arthritis.
Arnica gel also has a strong ability to promote blood circulation. It also aids in dispersal of blood and other fluids in the affected area of the skin. You can find arnica in pharmacies, supermarkets, and even online.
Apply the arnica gel/ointment to the affected area of the skin. You can use it several times a day or as directed by a doctor or manufacturer.
Never take arnica internally (by mouth). It can cause undesired side-effects like weakness, vomiting, and nervous problems.
You can also make arnica poultice at home. Mix one teaspoon of dried arnica flower with a glass of water. Apply it to the affected areas of skin gently. Repeat twice daily.Never use arnica poultice on broken skin.
5. Calamine Lotion
Calamine lotion is an effective treatment for itchy skin and is widely available. It aids in soothing and getting rid of itchy bruise marks on the skin. Apply it several times daily on the affected area. The itching will soon go away.
Vinegar has natural healing properties. It is one of the best home remedies for a bruise that itches and won’t go away easily.
Mix equal parts of white vinegar and warm water. Rub the solution on the bruised area. Use this remedy several times per day.
7. Witch Hazel
Witch hazel has powerful healing properties. It is an excellent relief remedy for the bruises that itch. It is especially helpful for bruises due to damaged veins in the legs and thighs.
Take a cotton swab/cosmetic pad. Swab it with a product of a good brand. Dab it gently on the itching bruise mark for two to three minutes. Repeat this process several times each day.
8. Hydrocortisone Cream
Another way to cure a bruise that itches is to apply a hydrocortisone cream. Use the cream twice daily or as directed by any medicinal practitioner.
Apply it to the affected area. Take them along with antihistamines but do consult a doctor for it.
9. Aloe Vera Gel
Aloe vera is one of the best remedies to cure itchy bruises at home. Bruise that itches and won’t go away easily can heal with the powerful natural ingredients of aloe vera.
Squeeze and apply fresh gel from an aloe vera plant leaf. You can also use an over-the-counter aloe vera gel.
‘How to stop bruises from itching?’
The sweetest way is to eat pineapples. Pineapples contain a digestive enzyme called bromelain. This enzyme helps to break down the proteins which accumulate in the bruised area. Thus the healing process speeds up.
Parsley is also an excellent home remedy to heal itchy bruises. To use it, take a handful of fresh parsley leaves.
Crush and apply the paste to the bruised areas. Cover the area with a bandage. Remove the parsley paste after fifteen minutes. Repeat this home remedy frequently.
Related Reading: Parsley Tea: Benefits, Nutrition, and Recipes
If you like the supplements route, take 250-500 mg of bromelain nutritional supplements per day between meals.
You can also apply coconut oil or cucumber slices on the affected area. Avoid smoking and eat lots of fruits and vegetables for faster healing.
Final Word on Bruises that Itch
Bruises take about two weeks to disappear. If the itchy bruises don’t go away even after using these home remedies, seek medical help. Medical treatment for abnormal bruising prevents and stops bleeding.
If your skin gets injured over a bruise, watch for signs of a skin infection. Check your symptoms to decide if you should see a doctor. Notice a change in the bruises and report it to the doctor.
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Stacy, “Itchy Bruise on Leg, Thigh, Won’t Go Away Meaning, Causes, Home Remedies to Get Rid of it Fast,”; BeautyHealthPlus web site, July 9, 2016; https://www.beautyhealthplus.org/itchy-bruise-leg-thigh-wont-go-away-meaning-causes-home-remedies-get-rid-fast/.
“Bruises and Blood Spots Under the Skin,”eMedicinehealth web site; https://www.emedicinehealth.com/bruises_and_blood_spots_under_the_skin-health/article_em.htm,last accessed January 16, 2018.