Bruises are bluish or purple-coloured patches that appear on the skin when tiny blood vessels called capillaries break or burst underneath.
The blood from the capillaries leaks into the soft tissue under your skin, causing the discolouration. Over time, this fades through shades of yellow or green – usually after around two weeks.
Bruises often feel tender or swollen at first.
Unexplained bruises that occur easily or for no apparent reason may indicate a bleeding disorder, especially if the bruising is accompanied by frequent nosebleeds or bleeding gums.
Bruises in elderly people frequently occur because their skin has become thinner with age. The tissues that support the underlying blood vessels have become more fragile.
Bruises are also more common in those taking medicine to thin the blood.