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Medically reviewed by Last updated on Dec 2, 2022.

What is ecchymosis?

Ecchymosis is a collection of blood under the skin. Blood leaks from blood vessels and collects in nearby tissues. This can happen anywhere just below the skin, or in a mucus membrane, such as your mouth. Ecchymosis may appear as a large red, blue, or purple area of skin. You may also have pain or swelling in the area. Signs and symptoms may move to nearby body areas.

What causes ecchymosis?

  • A trauma, such as being hit with a blunt object, or an animal bite
  • A medical condition, such as a low platelet count, blood clotting disorder, or cancer
  • Certain medicines, such as warfarin, steroids, or aspirin
  • Lack of vitamin K or vitamin C
  • An infection, such as Rocky Mountain spotted fever

How is the cause of ecchymosis diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will examine the affected areas and ask when your symptoms began. Tell him or her if you had a recent trauma or you have a medical condition that can cause ecchymosis. Tell him or her about all the medicines you take and if you noticed signs or symptoms begin after you took a medicine. You may need blood tests to check your blood cells or measure the amount of inflammation. The tests may also show signs of infection or test how well your blood clots.

How is ecchymosis treated?

Ecchymosis usually does not need treatment. Your healthcare provider may want you to have more tests to find the cause if you get ecchymosis often or it is painful. The medical condition causing ecchymosis may need to be treated. Your healthcare provider may stop or change a medicine that is causing your ecchymosis. The following may help relieve your symptoms:

  • Rest the area to help the tissues heal.
  • Apply ice to the area to relieve pain and swelling. Ice can also help prevent tissue damage. Use an ice pack, or put crushed ice in a bag. Cover the ice pack or bag with a small towel before you apply it to your skin. Apply ice for 20 minutes every hour, or as directed.
  • Elevate the affected area to reduce swelling, and to improve circulation. Prop the area on pillows to keep it elevated above the level of your heart. Do this as often as possible.
  • NSAID medicines such as ibuprofen can help reduce pain and swelling. NSAIDs are available without a prescription. Ask your healthcare provider which medicine is right for you. Ask how much to take and how often to take it. Follow directions. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding and kidney damage if not taken correctly. If you take blood thinner medicine, always ask if NSAIDs are safe for you.

Treatment options

The following list of medications are in some way related to or used in the treatment of this condition.

View more treatment options

When should I call my doctor?

  • You have new symptoms.
  • Your bruise suddenly gets bigger and feels hard.
  • The affected area does not improve within 2 weeks.
  • You have ecchymosis around your eye and you are having trouble seeing.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.