Easy Bruising: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

Everyone has experienced a bruise at some point. However, bruising that occurs easily—without injury or trauma—can be a sign of an underlying medical condition that is keeping your blood from clotting properly. It can also occur as a side effect of some medications, such as blood thinners.

This article will cover the symptoms, potential causes, and treatment for easy bruising.

Skin bruises.

Jena Ardell / Getty Images

Symptoms of Easy Bruising

A bruise (contusion) is an area of skin that becomes discolored when blood vessels under the skin get damaged. Bruises commonly develop on the arms and legs, as these areas of the body are susceptible to injury (such as bumping into furniture). These bruises typically go away within one to two weeks.

Symptoms of easy bruising include:

  • Large bruises
  • Bruising without a known cause
  • Multiple bruises at the same time
  • Bruises on areas of the body not prone to injury (e.g., torso or face)

Medical Conditions That Cause Easy Bleeding

Easy bruising can be a sign of an underlying medical condition. One group of medical conditions that can cause easy bleeding are blood disorders. These conditions interfere with the body's ability to properly clot blood because there is a lack of proteins in the blood that help platelets form blood clots (clotting factors).

Symptoms of bleeding disorders can include:

  • Easy bruising
  • Heavy periods
  • Bleeding gums
  • Spontaneous nosebleeds
  • Bleeding into joints
  • Excessive bleeding from small injuries or after surgery

Nutritional Causes

Vitamin K deficiency can lead to easy bruising. The vitamin plays an important role in blood clotting. Vitamin K is found in foods such as greens (spinach, kale, collards, etc.), soybeans, and organ meats. Supplements can also be a source of vitamin K.

Hemophilia

Hemophilia is a genetic condition that occurs when a person lacks specific clotting factors. There are two types of hemophilia: type A (which occurs when clotting factor VIII is lacking) and type B (which occurs when clotting factor IX is decreased).

The symptoms of hemophilia can be mild or severe, depending on how much clotting factor is present in the affected person's blood.

Hemophilia affects males more often than females because the condition is caused by a defect on the X chromosome. People assigned females at birth have two X chromosomes and people who are assigned males have one X and one Y chromosome.

Therefore, males who inherit the defective X chromosome will have hemophilia. Females who inherit one defective X chromosome may or may not have symptoms, depending on the level of clotting factor in their blood. If two defective chromosomes are inherited, females will have hemophilia.

Von Willebrand Disease

Von Willebrand disease is a bleeding disorder that occurs when a protein called von Willebrand factor in the blood is lacking or not working properly. This condition is more common than hemophilia and affects males and females equally.

There are three types of von Willebrand disease. Type 1 is the mildest and type 3 is the most severe.

Age and Bruising

Bruising can occur more easily as a person ages. The skin becomes thinner the older a person gets, making the blood vessels more prone to injury.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Bleeding Disorders

Bleeding disorders are diagnosed by reviewing your symptoms and performing blood tests. These tests can include:

  • Complete blood count (CBC): Determines the number of blood cells and platelets in your blood
  • Prothrombin time (PT): Measures how long it takes for your blood to clot
  • Clotting factor tests: Assess amounts of different clotting factors in your blood
  • Genetic testing: Looks for genetic defects that occur with bleeding disorders

Treatment for bleeding disorders depends on the severity of the condition. Mild cases might only need treatment during procedures, such as dental work or during childbirth when bleeding is likely to occur. In these situations, medications called antifibrinolytic agents can be taken to help control bleeding.

A synthetic hormone called Ddavp (Desmopressin) is used to treat minor bleeding. Birth control pills can help control the amount of bleeding during menstrual periods.

More serious cases of bleeding disorders might require factor replacement therapy that adds clotting factors to the blood.

Cushing's Syndrome

Easy bruising can be a symptom of Cushing's syndrome. In this condition, the body makes too much of a hormone called cortisol. Cushing's is most often caused by long-term use of corticosteroid medications, but it can also be caused by a tumor.

Other symptoms of Cushing's include:

  • Rounded face
  • Weight gain
  • Stretch marks
  • Muscle weakness
  • Fat in the base of the neck
  • Thin arms and legs

Cushing's syndrome is diagnosed with blood, urine, and saliva tests, as well as imaging to identify tumors. The treatment will be specific to the underlying cause but can include medication, chemotherapy, radiation, or sometimes surgery.

Leukemia

Leukemia is a type of cancer that affects blood cells. It can cause low platelet levels, which can lead to easy bruising. Other symptoms of leukemia include:

  • Joint pain
  • Night sweats
  • Loss of appetite
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Prolonged bleeding
  • Tiny red dots under the skin

Leukemia is diagnosed with blood and bone marrow tests. It can be treated with chemotherapy or other medications, radiation, and stem cell transplant.

Medications That Can Cause Easy Bruising

Easy bruising can be a side effect of certain medications, such as:

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs): These medications decrease inflammation and pain. Examples of NSAIDs include Advil or Motrin (ibuprofen), Bayer (aspirin), and Aleve (naproxen).
  • Blood thinners: These medications help prevent blood clots that can lead to stroke, heart attack, and pulmonary embolism. Coumadin (warfarin) is a commonly prescribed blood thinner.

If you are experiencing easy bruising as a side effect of medication, do not stop taking it without talking to your provider. In some cases, the risks of not taking your medication are more serious than the side effects it causes.

When To See a Healthcare Provider

Talk to your provider if you notice frequent bruising—especially if there doesn't appear to be an obvious cause. Other signs that you should get treatment for easy bruising include:

  • Frequent nosebleeds
  • Bleeding that does not stop after 10 minutes
  • Having periods that last more than seven days
  • Heavy periods that require changing a pad or tampon more frequently than every two hours
  • Family history of bleeding disorders

Summary

Easy bruising can cause large bruises in multiple areas of the body, often at the same time. The discolorations can be caused by a bleeding disorder or another medical condition or can be a side effect of medications.

Bleeding disorders are genetic conditions that are diagnosed with blood tests. In addition to easy bruising, bleeding disorders can cause frequent nosebleeds, heavy periods, and bleeding that does not stop after 10 minutes. Other medical conditions that can cause easy bruising include Cushing's syndrome and leukemia.

A Word From Verywell

Easy bruising might or might not be a cause for concern. Bruises on your arms or legs can occur from bumping into furniture, even if you don't remember hurting yourself.

If you have bruises on your torso or face, or other symptoms like bleeding gums, heavy periods, and frequent nosebleeds—talk to your provider. Together, these could be signs of an underlying medical condition. Make sure to give your provider an updated list of all the medications, OTC products, dietary supplements, and herbal products that you are taking.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How do I know if I have easy bruising?

    People who bruise easily often have multiple large bruises on their bodies at the same time. Easy bruising can occur along with other symptoms, such as frequent nosebleeds or heavy periods, depending on the underlying cause.

  • How is easy bruising treated?

    Treatment for easy bruising depends on the cause. Sometimes, easy bruising is a side effect of medication. In this case, your provider might be able to change your medication. Easy bruising that's caused by bleeding disorders can be treated with medication.

10 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. American Academy of Family Physicians. Easy bruising and bleeding.

  2. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. What are bleeding disorders?.

  3. American Society of Hematology. Bleeding disorders.

  4. National Institutes of Health. Vitamin K.

  5. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Women can have hemophilia, too.

  6. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Bleeding disorders diagnosis.

  7. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Bleeding disorders treatment.

  8. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Cushing's syndrome.

  9. Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Acute lymphoblastic leukemia signs and symptoms.

  10. National Library of Medicine, MedlinePlus. Leukemia.

By Aubrey Bailey, PT, DPT, CHT
Aubrey Bailey is a physical therapist and professor of anatomy and physiology with over a decade of experience providing in-person and online education for medical personnel and the general public, specializing in the areas of orthopedic injury, neurologic diseases, developmental disorders, and healthy living.