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A contusion is said to have occurred when blood vessels are damaged or broken after an injury. The raised area of the contusion is the result of blood and fluid leaking from those injured blood vessels into the tissue. You usually see a discolored, purplish area that takes 2-3 weeks to go away.

The condition is a minor problem that usually needs little treatment. Consult with your doctor if the injury does not clear up within a few weeks.

Contusion of Skin


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Contusions are caused by minor accidents to your skin, such as falling, bumping into something, or being hit or kicked.

Risk Factors

Almost everyone suffers occasional contusions as a result of routine bumps. Almost all contusions are minor injuries that require minimal medical treatment.


The following signs and symptoms of contusions are mild. However, if you experience any of these problems for more than three weeks, see your physician.

  • Skin discoloration (usually blue and/or purple, fading to yellow)
  • Pain
  • Swelling


The skin discoloration, pain, and swelling of a contusion are enough to diagnose the condition.


Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Treatment options include icing the injured area and elevating the injured area above the level of your heart. This can lessen the pain and reduce swelling. Keeping pressure against the wound can also help keep swelling down. If you also broke the skin, you may need a tetanus injection and/or antibiotics to prevent infection. You can take pain relieving medications such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen for the pain and swelling.

You may need a physician to look at the injury to make sure that you don’t have a more serious, underlying injury, such as a fracture.


Using proper safety equipment and procedures can help prevent contusions.


American Academy of Family Physicians

National Center for Injury Prevention and Control
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


Canadian Health Network

Health Canada


Common childhood injuries and poisonings. Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital web site. Available at: . Accessed September 13, 2005.

Treating abrasions and contusions. Strong Health website. Available at: . Accessed September 26, 2005.

Last reviewed January 2008 by Ross Zeltser, MD

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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