Children's Hospital Colorado

Is it More Than a Bruise?

A girl wearing a pink tank top and plaid shorts kneels on a blue wobbly balance beam at the park playground that has wood chips on the ground.

Bruises and children go hand in hand. But are all bruises harmless, or could one indicate something more serious? Kelly Maloney, MD, pediatric hematology and oncology specialist at Children's Hospital Colorado, has answers to questions commonly asked by parents.

How can parents determine when they should be concerned about a bruise on their child?

Bruises — the skin’s reaction to minor trauma — are common and expected in children, especially those who are active. However, if bruising appears in uncommon places, such as the back, stomach or back of a child’s arm, or if bruising occurs and gets worse after a head injury, you should seek medical attention. Also, if your child never bruises and then suddenly starts, talk with your child’s pediatrician or family physician. In rare instances, excessive or serious bruising could be a sign of anemia, a vitamin deficiency, a blood clotting disorder or even certain types of cancer.

How long should it take a normal bruise to heal?

Bruises typically heal within three to five days, although some bruises take longer to heal than others. Within this time, bruises should at least begin fading or possibly turning yellow and should not be accompanied by additional symptoms.

How can parents prevent bruising in their children?

Parents need to let their kids be kids. Bruising is natural and will happen occasionally. However, if bruises do not heal or are coupled with nosebleeds or bleeding gums, seek the care of a pediatrician. Testing may be required to determine if your child suffers from a more serious condition.

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