Dear Dr. SerVaas,
My lovely wife has a problem. The least thing she bumps with her hand or arm immediately causes a distinct bruise that lasts for days. Why does this happen or what can be done to stop it? If age is a factor, please explain why.
Post contributing editor and dermatology expert Dr. C. William Hanke replies:
“Older adults often bruise easily because of gradual changes that take place in the layer of fat just below the skin surface. As a person ages, this layer diminishes and the skin becomes thinner and less flexible. The loss of fat also decreases the skin’s cushioning effect.
“These changes, along with skin damage from sun exposure, cause blood vessels to break more easily. Applying topical emollients such as Vaseline or other over-the-counter ointments and minimizing soap application and hot showers may help combat skin dryness and prevent easy bruising.
“Older adults are most susceptible to bruises on the forearms, hands, legs, and feet. Sometimes the bruising will spread down the body in the direction of gravity. A bruise on a leg will usually take longer to heal than one on the face or arms. Most bruises are not a cause for concern and will go away on their own.”