Sometimes we think why do bruises itch? but before answering that question we have to know what kind of injuries are bruises. Bruises are also called a contusion; a bruise occurs when the small blood vessels just under the skin’s surface break causing the blood present in these small vessels to leak and spread in the surrounding tissues. A bruise is different from a scar because the skin surface is not damaged or injured in the case of a bruise.
Falling or bumping into something can cause bruising easily, sometimes bruises can also be caused due to a ligament sprain, muscle sprain or bone fracture. A bruise can also be accompanied by soreness and pain. A bruise usually changes its colour from red to purple or yellow before it properly diminishes. Certain medical conditions can also raise the chances of bruising easily, these conditions include “Low platelet count” etc. Old age is also one of the reasons that your skin is bruising easily because the fat ratio underneath your skin decreases with age. If you feel an itch and scratch it excessively this can also lead to bruise formation, so don’t scratch an itch violently.
As for the answer to the question that why do bruises itch? There is a medical term for it called ‘Pruritis’ which means itching in the bruise, it is not clear till now what exactly causes this bruise itching. Medical conditions such as leukaemia and liver disease can cause the bruises to itch or medications and medical therapies such as chemotherapy can also be the cause of bruise itching.
Muscles and bones are also sometimes prone to a bruise which makes the surrounding area swollen, stiff and painful. These bruises can lead to reduced motions and worse bruises can appear as a swollen lump.
Aside from these reasons, there is no certain cause for bruises itching while they heal by themselves, many theories are present at the time but they don’t give the actual answer. Some of the reasons that may lead to itchy bruises are discussed below:
Causes of an itchy bruise:
If you are not suffering from a certain medical condition and your bruise still itches, there is no clear reason for this itching. Some of the reasons that may cause your bruise to itch are the following:
1. Having Dry Skin:
Having dry skin can be one of the major reasons for itchy bruises because when your skin is dry and a bruise forms it is very sensitive and may become painful which also leads the bruise to become itchy. Skin can become dry to old age, cold air or medical conditions such as diabetes and kidney disease. A person should keep his skin moisturized by applying moisturizers and oils so that when a bruise appears on the skin it doesn’t become painful and itchy.
2. Old Age:
One of the reasons for itchy bruises can also be that an individual is an older adult. Old age is also responsible for bruising easily. Older adults often have dry skin and are prone to itching because the fat beneath their outer skin layer is reduced as a result of ageing. Older adults are also prone to diseases which can cause bruise itching.
3. Having a High level of Bilirubin:
Bilirubin is a compound which is released due to the breakdown of red blood cells in the human body, they are usually found in higher levels when a bruise is in the process of healing so bilirubin can also be one of the reasons that bruises are itchy.
Histamine is a chemical substance that is found in the cells of the body, this chemical substance works with the nerves to produce the sensation of itching. We can say that histamine is part of the human body’s immune system response. Histamine levels are said to be raised in the area where bruise forms and are released during the healing process of the bruise, Histamine is a known cause of all types of itching so it can also be the culprit for the itching occurring in the bruises.
5. Healing response:
Itching can be a part of the healing response of the body to the bruise because the blood circulation is increased in that part of the body where wounds are formed. Due to this increased blood circulation, a person can feel his bruise being itchy. According to a study, itching is the healing response of the body to all kinds of wounds.
6. Actinic Purpura:
This is a type of bruising which occurs on the back of the hand or arms, this type of bruising is called actinic purpura. These bruises are different from regular bruises because they remain for a longer time, knocks and minor injuries cause bruising easily. This type of bruise usually occurs more often in older adults due to their thin skin. Thinning of the skin due use of blood thinners and steroids usually causes the forming of these bruises. These types of bruises are itchier than usual bruises.
Can an itch be the reason for the itchy bruise formation accompanied by a rash?
Sometimes an itch can also be the reason for an itchy bruise. If a person scratches his skin due to an itch excessively then an itchy bruise can form due to the following reasons:
1. Insect bite:
When an insect such as a mosquito, tick, chigger or flea etc bites the skin of a person it injects some poison and proteins at the site of the bite to which our body responds in the form of an itch, if you scratch that bite site harshly that it can cause a bruise to form which is already itchy due to the skin reacting to the bite of the insect and the bruise will be itchy until the body stops reacting to the bite. Sometimes the bruise due to an insect bite is accompanied by a rash.
Eczema and atopic dermatitis can also be the reason for a rash occurring after a bruise.
What can be the severe reasons for skin bruising easily and an itchy bruise which is not healing?
In very rare cases an itchy bruise which does not heal or if the skin is bruising easily and frequently can be a sign of leukaemia. Other symptoms of this disease include weight loss, swollen lymph nodes, pain in bone, bleeding frequently and fatigue.
2. Liver diseases:
Liver diseases such as liver cancer and scarring of the liver (cirrhosis) can also be the reason for an itchy bruise and skin bruising easily. Other symptoms of liver disease include jaundice, sudden weight loss, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, dark urine and abdominal pain and swelling.
3. Breast Cancer:
Breast cancer can also look like bruising occurring on the chest, a lump can also be felt on your chest and your chest becomes warm and tender. Itchiness also occurs in your chest, especially near the nipples. Chemotherapy can also cause itchiness in the bruises.
Is my itchy bruise a sign of an infection?
Don’t worry an itchy bruise is not usually a sign of any infection. Experts say that different infections can affect the skin but the effects do not resemble any kind of bruises. If you think that your itchy bruise is the sign of some severe disease like cancer or liver disease then you don’t have to worry because in these severe medical conditions itching and bruising occur all over the body, not at any specific bruise.
Treatments for an itchy bruise:
If your bruise is itching due to dry skin then you can try the following methods:
- Moisturize your skin daily.
- Use warm water and avoid hot showers.
- Use a humidifier to moisturize the air around you.
- Avoid scratching the bruise.
- Using mild and skin-caring products.
If your bruise is itching due to a bug bite and is accompanied by a rash then try the following treatments:
- Take oral pain relievers.
- Apply anti-itch topical creams.
- Using Over-the-counter treatments like antihistamines.
- A paste of baking soda and water can be applied at the bite spot.
Most importantly don’t scratch your bruise frequently because it can cause the skin to break and increases the chances of an infection. You can also consult with a doctor if you think that the itchiness is due to a medication you are using. Antibiotics can often cause this type of itchiness. Most of the bruises go away by themselves after the wound healing is complete. In case of a swollen and painful bruise, you can apply an ice bag to the bruise to relieve the pain and decrease the swelling.
Itchy bruises are not to be worried about because they go away themselves, the itchiness is part of the healing process of the wound, and bruises may also change colour during it. There is no actual reason determined for itchy bruises, only theories are present to this date. Just don’t scratch your bruise because it can make the bruise worse. If you think the itchiness is due to the medications you are taking or some other worrisome symptoms arise like the bruise becoming very painful and unusual then you should make an appointment with the doctor.