Why Do I Have an Itchy Bruise and What can I do about It?
A bruise is also known as a contusion. A person has a bruise when a small blood vessel beneath the skin surface breaks. Blood then leaks into the surrounding tissue.
Most bruises are caused by injuries, such as bumping into something or falling into something. Bruises are also caused by ligament sprains, muscle strains, or bone fractures.
Some medical conditions can increase a person’s risk of a bruise, especially conditions that trigger blood clotting disorders or reduces the number of circulating platelets. Thrombocytopenia is an example of such conditions. Your risk of sustaining a bruise may increase as you get older and your skin becomes thinner.
Pain and soreness at the injury site also accompany a bruise. The bruise may change colors, ranging from red to purple, and even brown to yellow before it resolves completely.
Some patients have reported that their bruise itches. A bruise itch is an established medical condition known as pruritus. However, why this happens isn’t exactly clear.
In the absence of any underlying conditions, it is unclear why one may experience a bruise itch especially when the bruise is in the process of healing. Some theories have been made, but no definite conclusion has been reached. Unless you experience other symptoms, an itchy bruise should not cause much concern and will likely resolve in a few days.
Causes of a bruise itch
Like we’ve said, no one knows why a bruise would itch especially when there is no underlying medical condition. Several theories have been formed. These include:
- Dryness of the skin especially if you have not been using moisturizers on a tender bruise. This could result in itchiness.
- Excessive bilirubin is another cause. As your red blood cells break down, they release bilirubin. An excess of this compound may cause itching.
- More blood is being circulated to wounded areas. Fresh circulation is always needed to help flush out waste products and renew cells. Tingling and itching of the skin may indicate that fresh blood has circulated to this area. It may also indicate the response of the nerves to increased blood flow during healing.
- Histamine levels may also increase when there is a bruise. This is due to the inflammation of the affected area. Histamine causes itching.
It is a fact that dry skin can itch. Dry skin due to health disorders, like kidney disease or diabetes, or living in a dry, cold climate. Bruising is more common and more frequent in older people. They are also more prone to dry, itchy skin.
What causes a bruise itch along with a rash or lesion?
You may experience a bruise itch if the bruise was caused by an underlying rash, lump, lesion, or any other factor.
Bites from insects such as the fire ant, a mosquito, flea bite, chigger, or a tick can cause excessive scratching. This is due to the reaction of your body to the venom injected into your skin by the offending insect.
If you scratch the bitten part excessively, you can injure the skin and the bruise. You will continue to experience a bruise itch until your body stops reacting to the bite. Some species of tick can also cause an itchy rash that looks just like a bruise.
Frequent bruising, or a bruise that fails to heal, alongside an itch, may be a symptom of leukemia. Other symptoms include:
Sometimes, a woman may have a bruise-like feature on the breast. This may be inflammatory breast cancer. You may also have a warm and tender feeling on your breast and may spot a lump near or under the breast. You may also experience an itch, most times under the nipple.
Some diseases of the liver, such as cirrhosis and liver cancer, can also cause bruising and a bruise itch.
Other symptoms of liver diseases include:
Antibiotics and chemotherapy may also cause itchiness of the skin and bruising.
How to treat an itchy bruise
If your itch is caused by dryness of the skin, here are some ways by which it can be resolved:
- Apply a moisturizer to your skin daily
- Do not take hot showers. Bath with cold water instead.
- Bath with a mild soap
- Try not to scratch the affected area
- You may use a humidifier to moisten the air
Talk to your healthcare provider if you think that the itch and the bruise is a side effect of a medication.
If the itch is caused by a rash or an insect bite, you can resolve it by:
- Applying topical anti-itch creams
- Taking oral pain relievers
- Applying baking soda and water to the bite
- Use antihistamines
Try not to scratch a bug bite. Scratching can cause your skin to break, thus putting the skin at risk of infection.
Most times, bruises resolve without a cure. The blood will be reabsorbed by the body within a few days. You may cold compress the bruise if there’s pain or swelling.
Medical researchers do not fully understand why a bruise itches as it heals, but some theories have been formulated. A bruise that itches as it heals is no cause for worry. Some medical conditions can cause easy bruising as well as a bruise itch. If you experience other symptoms apart from the bruising and itching, or you think that your symptoms may be caused by a medication, see your doctor. Also, see your healthcare provider if your body bruises and itches easily without any cause.
Tonika Bruce, MSN, RN, MBA. is an accomplished nurse leader, published author, and personal development expert passionate about advancing healthcare management and quality patient outcomes.
She taps into the years of experience in healthcare management to produce credible and easy-to-understand health and leadership content. Her exceptional work has been featured in reputable publications, including Forbes, Recruiter, Inc, and the Color of Wellness magazine.