I don't bruise
November 7, 2006 9:00 PM   Subscribe

Why don't I bruise?

Some people bruise more easily than others but I have the opposite phenomenon: seemingly bruiseworthy events leave not a trace. I've been hit by cars, fallen off cliffs and crashed bicycles at speed. I might be very sore for days or weeks afterwards, but I don't get the blue/black/purple/yellow bruising that most people seem to experience to varying extents.

I write this now as I am layed up with a broken leg and have more time to ponder the mysteries of the body than usual.

Any theories?
posted by tim_in_oz to Health & Fitness (26 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Do you have low body fat? My pet theory is that having high body fat content contributes to visible bruising. All the girls I know bruise more easily than boys, and I bruise far more easily on pudgy areas.

When something "bruiseworthy" occurs, are you bruised in that you can feel the tenderness and simply not see the color, or neither?
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 9:06 PM on November 7, 2006

Do you have a lot of fat tissue on your body? I notice bruises take longer to "surface" on my hips and thighs, for instance, even when it feels bruisy there for awhile. I'm not a scientist, but there's one theory.
posted by Humpable Prose at 9:09 PM on November 7, 2006

Ladies and gentlemen, it looks like we have an emprical question on our hands...
posted by Humpable Prose at 9:10 PM on November 7, 2006

Humpable Ambrosia: I don't have very much fat. I do feel all the attendant pain and tenderness of a bruise - there's just no discolouration.
posted by tim_in_oz at 9:12 PM on November 7, 2006

I am somewhat less accident prone, but I have taken some nasty spills rock climbing, broken toes, had doors slammed on appendages, crashed bicycles pretty good, and I scrape pretty good, but even the broken toe left no black and blue.

For what its worth, I am obese based on BMI, but decently fit/workout bi-weekly.
posted by SirStan at 9:12 PM on November 7, 2006

My BMI is 20-21, I can't remember the last time I had a visible bruise.
posted by phrontist at 9:18 PM on November 7, 2006

Perhaps it's differences in clotting ability?
posted by phrontist at 9:19 PM on November 7, 2006

Yeah, the "feel" of a bruise must be unrelated to the "blood breaking free of your circulatory system" part of a bruise.
posted by Humpable Prose at 9:23 PM on November 7, 2006

Regular intake of certain nutrients, mostly antioxidants (for example, vitamin C coupled with the biofavonoids hesperidin and rutin specifically, or even better, grape-seed extract) has been proven to improve capillary stability, making you less bruise-prone. It could just be that you are eating the right things or taking the right supplements!
posted by theperfectcrime at 9:25 PM on November 7, 2006

I have always wondered this same thing. I simply cannot bruise! As an additional data point, I am rail thin.
posted by Paul KC at 9:32 PM on November 7, 2006

In addition to having a high BMI, I chalk up my somewhat easy- bruisy to my chalky ancestry. I bet people who flush easily always bruise easily... I flush like a motherfucker.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 9:51 PM on November 7, 2006

I don't bruise easily (almost never), and I'm not thin, nor do I eat particularly nutricious meals.
posted by knave at 10:17 PM on November 7, 2006

I'm similar also but only since adulthood. I used to bruise easily when I was a child. When I had 4 wisdom teeth taken out in my early 20s, I only got a small bit of bruising despite having my teeth basically smashed out of my mouth.

I'm around 22 BMI.

On the other hand, I do cut easily. I've cut myself on plastic utensils, the unbroken edge of wineglass, the edge of table, etc.
posted by Cog at 10:21 PM on November 7, 2006

I'm pale, throughly blessed with fatty tissue, and (with the unusual exception of having my wisdom teeth cut out) I bruise like nobody's business. If I think too hard about running into a piece of furniture, I'll bruise. The darkest, grossest bruises tend to be on the fattiest areas (like my thighs), whereas my knees, arms, and shins are more prone to yellowish, purplish bruises. I've also noticed that hormones seem to effect it. When I was on depo-provera, my legs were covered in black bruises, and now, they're worse around my period; I have no idea how the hormone issue would work with a guy.
posted by mostlymartha at 10:53 PM on November 7, 2006

I am not rail thin, nor am I fat, and I do not bruise at all. Ever. Sorry to screw your thin people hypothesis.
posted by BuddhaInABucket at 11:25 PM on November 7, 2006

Doesn't iron content in the blood also help with bruising? I've known people who bruise if you poke them lightly in the arm with a finger, in a jesting way.

I personally take a lot of injury before I bruise, and I know from blood donation that I have very healthy levels of iron and other good stuff. Perhaps you just lucked out genetically and your body doesn't respond to that sort of trauma with a showy display of bruising.
posted by tomble at 3:30 AM on November 8, 2006

Another non-bruiser, thinnish, exercise a lot, reasonably healthy eater. And totally with you when you tagged this question "sympathy". It's not FAAIR that it can hurt so much and nobody knows.
posted by penguin pie at 4:17 AM on November 8, 2006

Do all the non-bruisers really not bruise at all? For example, when paintballing, does a direct hit on exposed skin leave only redness, without it later turning blue/yellow?
posted by roofus at 4:32 AM on November 8, 2006

Do those of you who don't bruise blush? I asked my doc about why my skin turns red so easily (i.e. lightly brush a wall and I'll have a red mark for 30 minutes or so) and it had something to do with the blood vessels being so close to the skin. I assume there is a converse to this and that might be what is at work here.
posted by jwells at 4:39 AM on November 8, 2006

Do all the non-bruisers really not bruise at all? For example, when paintballing, does a direct hit on exposed skin leave only redness, without it later turning blue/yellow?

posted by knave at 4:49 AM on November 8, 2006

I never show visible bruising either (except when I break my nose), and I've always associated it with body-fat as well. I think there are also correlations with iron content, but I'm old and was high on marijuana drugs for along time so might not remember correctly
posted by Joseph Gurl at 5:48 AM on November 8, 2006

I think iron has a lot more to do with this than does BMI...I've been through the full spectrum but definitely bruise just as easily when underweight. I tend to knock my joints into stuff all the time and get big bruises from that but will bruise in the fleshy bits if poked. I'm always anemic and would guess that this/related genetic factors have more to do with it than amount of fat.
posted by shownomercy at 7:20 AM on November 8, 2006

I agree about the iron. I am one of those people who always has 10 to 20 small bruises somewhere on my body at all times - mostly shins, calves, and knees - and I never remember getting them. They usually come from car doors and coffee tables, but the bump is so slight I never notice it, yet, always with the bruises.

After giving birth, my OB had me on 325 mg of ferrous sulfate twice per day because my iron was so low. I rarely bruised during those weeks, and when I did, the bruise would be gone in days, rather than weeks. It was a remarkable difference. I'd love to continue taking that much iron so that I don't look like an abuse victim, but I would never poop again if I did that. Instead I take one pill a week and I notice a slight difference.
posted by peep at 11:14 AM on November 8, 2006

I have only ever bruised once in my life. It was a football helmet to the thigh, and it turned yellow and green, not black and blue.

Since, I have never bruised as far as I know. I am thin, I exercise like a fiend, and I eat huge quantities of bio-diverse foods. I am male.

Take my data points and use them as you will, oh empirical AskMefi Gods.
posted by zhivota at 4:42 PM on November 8, 2006

I'm a hurf durf butter eater, my skin's several shades lighter than Casper, my iron levels are "excellent" (mmm, spinach), and I bruise easily -- I'll look down and see bruises I don't remember getting (and no, I don't have leukemia or diabetes or pre-diabetes). I bruise with different ease on different body parts, but I don't think that has to do with weight distribution -- for example, my shins bruise easily, but my breasts don't. The bruises in general don't bug me; I hardly notice if I'm purplish for a few days.

I think we've demonstrated the usefulness of anecdotal evidence.

Helpful part: The intarwebs says excessive bruising might be caused by a deficiency of B9, B12, C, or K. Might you be eating a whole lot of those vitamins? Or maybe you unbruisy people just have more platelets than usual.
posted by booksandlibretti at 4:58 PM on November 8, 2006

I'm a light bruiser. My olive skinned Mediterranean wife bruises like no other I've seen. I mention this because of the peculiar take the sport of boxing has on bruising. I used to box, and much attention was paid to whether a boxer was prone to large amounts of swelling (which can close off an eye and affect vision) or bleeding (which can get a fight called). Boxing not being a politically correct sport, they strongly associated both characteristics with certain complexions. And... er, races. Mediterranean skin was associated with lots of swelling and bruising -- think Italian boxers. Pale, northern European complexion is associated with getting easily cut. I was dubious, but my heritage was Irish -- and damn if I didn't get cut in nearly every difficult fight. My buddy, a nice Sicilian guy, would have both eyes swollen half shut after fights he won easily. Obviously, knowing a particular boxer's tendencies was more important than anything -- there were Hispanic bleeders and French-Canadian bruisers. But absent that, the ethnic generalizations applied. To the extent that when matched against a very pale red head we didn't know anything about, my manager's last pre-fight instruction was to "bang your head around a little when you're inside. He looks Irish. Maybe you open something up over an eye." And sure enough...
posted by centerweight at 8:53 PM on November 8, 2006

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