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The colors and phases of bruising

We all get bruises. Sometimes we know where they come from and sometimes we don’t even realize we’ve gotten them. So what is a bruise and what do the phases of colors they go through mean?

The most common type of bruise involves an injury to the small blood vessels below the skin’s surface. Blood pools below the skin and you are able to see the color of that blood showing through the skin. You can also get bruises to bones, muscles, etc. in the case of deeper injuries or surgeries. Most bruises will heal within 2 weeks although some may take longer depending on the size.

What is the rainbow of colors the bruise will go through?

Initially a bruise will appear red because it is made up of fresh, oxygen-rich blood.

​After 1-2 days a bruise will usually appear purple, blue, or black as the blood loses oxygen.

​In 5-10 days, the body begins to break down hemoglobin and clean up the bruise. As it does so, it creates compounds called biliverdin and bilirubin which make the bruise appear yellow or green.

​After 10-14 days, the bruise will turn brown and begin to fade away.