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June 23, 2024 4 mins

Bruises can turn a rainbow of colors before they heal -- but why? Learn the science behind color-changing contusions in this classic episode of BrainStuff, based on this article: https://health.howstuffworks.com/skin-care/information/health-factors/why-do-bruises-change-colors-as-heal.htm

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Speaker 1 (00:01):
Welcome to brain Stuff, a production of iHeartRadio. Hey brain Stuff,
I'm Lauren bvogelbamb And Today I've got a classic.

Speaker 2 (00:10):
Episode of a podcast for you.

Speaker 1 (00:12):
In this one, we're talking about these slightly gross but
totally awesome science behind bruises and why they change color
while your body is healing from a bump. Hey, brain Stuff,
I'm Lauren vogelbamb And. If you're anything like me and
absentmindedly attempt to walk through solid objects instead of around them,
you're familiar with bruises. They can be embarrassing reminders of

(00:35):
less than graceful moments, or, perhaps for an athlete with
hard won marks from a vigorous workout, a mark of
profound pride. But however you choose to view bruises, they're
pretty fascinating. The variety of colorful patterns they create on
the skin is reason enough to want to learn more
about these weird and sometimes painful spots that everyone is
coped with at one point or another. Otherwise known as

(00:57):
a contusion, a bruise is a mark that appears when
when blood is trapped underneath the surface of the skin.
Bruises occur when some type of trauma or injury crushes
tiny blood vessels known as capillaries, but doesn't break the skin.
As a result of the injury, the broken capillaries leak
out red blood cells, which get trapped under the skin,
collecting in a pool that forms the blue, purple, red,

(01:18):
black blemish. Bruises can feel tender when they first form
and can be accompanied by some swelling. They usually take
about two weeks to heal, but some bruises can last months.
During the healing period, the body breaks down and reabsorbs
the pooled blood that produced the mark. As this happens,
the color of the bruises can fade from dark to
light and take on all kinds of interesting hues along

(01:40):
the way. When a bruise first forms, it's usually some
shade of red thanks to the fresh blood just below
the skin's surface. After about a day or two, the
hemoglobin in the blood cells starts losing its oxygen, which
is what gives blood its red color in the first place.
Hemoglobin is the protein that transports oxygen to cells, so
as it's broken down by the BOTO, it loses that

(02:01):
oxygen it was carrying, and its red tone darkens and
shifts to blue. Purple and blackish tones. After a few
more days, the mark usually fades to greener yellow, before
being hit with a hint of brown and then fading
away completely. This color change.

Speaker 2 (02:15):
Occurs as the body reuses the iron in the hemoglobin
to form new red blood cells. The unused decomposed hemoglobin
transforms into a green pigment called biliverdin, which then converts
into a yellow or light brown tinged compound called bilirubin.
As all these products are either reabsorbed or purged from
the body, the mark fades and disappears. Just About everyone

(02:38):
gets bruises, but some people are more prone to them
than others. Elderly people, for example, may be more likely
to bruise to to thinner skin and softer tissue. Other
factors like certain diseases, medical conditions, and medications can also
increase a person's risk for bruising. So what do you
do when you get a hickey, a shiner, or any
other form of contusion. Usually time real life does heal

(03:00):
all wounds. Eventually, A serious bruise can develop clots that
take months to resolve, but will usually go away on
their own. And while there are plenty of urban myths
and tales about how to magically banish bruises in a snap.
The only legit healing method is to chill, literally and figuratively.
Doctors recommend applying ice right after the injury occurs, and

(03:21):
then resting the injured area as much as you can
for the next few days. After that, you can try
applying mild heat to increase blood flow, which might speed
the healing process up a little bit. By the way,
if you find yourself constantly battling bruises, you might want
to talk to a doctor to investigate whether you have
a nutrient deficiency because your blood requires vitamin K to

(03:41):
clock properly. If you don't have enough, you might bruise
more easily. Vitamin C is also important to protect your
blood vessels. Today's episode is based on the article why
do bruises change color as they heal? On hostifforks dot Com,
written by Shell cons Standinofsky. Brainstuff is production by Heart
Radio in partnership with how Stuffworks.

Speaker 1 (04:01):
Dot Com is produced by Tyler Klag.

Speaker 2 (04:03):
Four more podcasts my Heart Radio, visit the iHeartRadio app,
Apple Podcasts, or wherever you listen to your favorite shows.

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