Posted on Apr 10, 2012 in Health & safety
Why does a bruise change so many different colors?
So you’ve managed to fall face first on to your front porch (some of you get to add the modifier “again” to this) and now you’ve got that lovely purple bruise forming on your cheekbone. You know full well you’ll be hearing about it from your friends and coworkers as it runs the gamut from purple-red to blue, to that lovely sickly yellow color. Why, why do they have to turn so many colors of the rainbow before they just — you know — go away?
First, you need to understand where the colors come from.
As the hemoglobin in the red blood cells breaks down, it breaks down into compounds called biliverdin (green), bilirubin (yellow), and hemosiderin (golden-brown). (Bilirubin, by the way, is the stuff that makes your pee yellow, your poop brown, and causes the yellow color in jaundice. Lovely, no?)
Don’t worry — the coloration is not harmful, and your body soon clears these products from the bruise area and disposes of them accordingly, though it’s usually long after the tissues that were damaged in the first place have been healed.
It’s also very common that a bruise will show two or more different colors at the same time — as shown in this photo — often because the area has not all received the same amount of damage, and/or it is healing from the outside of the injury site in toward the center.
You know the rainbow’s color sequence is ROYGBIV… but what about the stages of a bruise? That’s more like RBIGY.
A publication by the US Department of Justice released a publication about recognizing child abuse, which broke down the color changes as so:
Also see: What causes a bruise?
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