Bruises occur when blood vessels break, due to some kind of force, and leak blood into areas under the skin. The main symptoms of a bruise are pain, swelling, and skin discoloration. A bruise begins as a pinkish, red color that can be very tender to touch.
Healing, part 1
Within hours a bruise will turn into a dark blue or purple color. As the bruise begins to heal it changes colors. The color change is due to the biochemical breakdown of hemoglobin that is found in the blood. As the different components of the blood are broken down, different colors will appear in the bruise.
Healing, part 2
A bruise first begins as a pinkish, red color, changes to dark blue or purple, fades to violet, green, dark yellow, and turns a pale yellow until it completely disappears. A bruise will usually completely heal in 2 weeks.
Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.