What Those Random Bruises On Your Legs Really Mean

When noticing a nasty bruise on your leg, you may remember bumping into the end table or tripping over the vacuum...or you may have no idea how the bruise came to be. A bruise, or contusion, occurs when there is damage to the blood vessels under the skin, causing them to bleed (via Medical News Today). According to Healthline, you may bruise more easily if you are of a more mature age, are a woman, or if easy bruising runs in your family.

Pediatric hematologist and oncologist at Banner Health in Arizona, Joseph Torkildson, tells Banner Health that women may bruise more easily than men do because of "women's skin having more fat and less collagen. Collagen forms a network of fibers in the skin that hold it together like a net. The collagen supports blood vessels, so they are more protected from injury." Dr. Torkildson goes on to say that bruising easily is not commonly cause for concern and that some over-the-counter pain medications, such as aspirin, can affect the platelets and allow for easier bruising.

When it's more than just a bruise

There are times when unexplained bruising can be an indicator of a more serious health condition. Conditions such as hemophilia, lupus, or vasculitis can cause bruising, usually in conjunction with other atypical symptoms. Excessive bruising and bleeding might indicate low levels of platelets, abnormally functioning platelets, or another issue preventing the blood from clotting properly (via Mayo Clinic). Bruising, along with severe itching, jaundice, or swelling, might also be a sign of a damaged liver (cirrhosis) (via Medical News Today).

A deficiency in vitamin C or K could also explain why your legs might be black and blue. Lack of vitamin C can lead to a decrease in collagen, anemia, and a weak immune system, which all contribute to slower contusion healing (via WebMD). Vitamin K is needed for optimal blood clotting, which helps to prevent excessive bruising and bleeding (per WebMD).

If you find yourself with more bruises on your legs than normal, accompanied by bruises on other areas of your body, an increase in bleeding, or other abnormal symptoms, a visit to your doctor can help determine the underlying reason.