We’ve all sported the odd black and blue mark from a knock, but for some of us, the slightest bump seems to result in a multi-coloured extravaganza, which might last as long as several weeks.
Other people might find they bruise a lot, even if the bruises themselves are not spectacular, but they cannot recall the impacts that would explain the marks.
So why do some people bruise more easily than others? And can it mean something sinister?
We bruise when something happens to break or burst the blood vessels that carry blood around our bodies.
Red blood cells leak out into the surrounding tissue, but they cannot survive outside the blood vessels so they pool in the flesh and start to break down.
This can result in a kaleidoscope of changing colours as the bruise progresses from black to brown to green to yellow.
It turns out there can be a number of explanations for bruising more easily. Here are some of the most common ones:
You’re a woman
Dr Andrew Miller, dermatologist and senior lecturer at ANU and a spokesman for the College of Dermatologists, said women tend to bruise more easily than men.
Scientists do not know exactly why but it is probably to do with collagen (supporting tissue in the skin) and other factors such as skin thickness and subtle variations in the way blood vessels are supported.
How to treat a bruise:
A decent deep bruise can take two to three weeks to go
While there are creams around that are supposed to reduce bruising, Dr Andrew Miller said “they probably don’t make a great deal of difference”
He suggests a cold pack and pressure to reduce the bleeding
We all have a fibrous matrix that holds our skin together and supports the blood vessels and the fine blood vessels.
Well-supported blood vessels are more tightly held in place and are therefore less likely to break and result in bruising when the skin is pushed or pulled.
While there are many factors that affect the firmness of the supportive matrix, it seems that men tend to have an overall advantage.
“The fibrous layer of the skin is thicker in men, as a rule, than it is in women. So they do have thicker skin,” Dr Miller said.
As you get older, the firmness of the fibrous layer of your skin and the fat beneath it decreases.
Like many things as we age, it all starts to get a bit saggy and floppy.
This makes older people more vulnerable to bruising because the internal structure of their skin just is not as capable of holding the blood vessels firmly in place.
“When you bump against things, the skin moves more,” Dr Miller said.
“The shearing is greater and that results in more mechanical stress and more bruising.”