Ecchymosis

What is Ecchymosis?

This condition is discernable by the bluish or reddish discoloration of unraised skin that is often caused spontaneously by a medical disorder. The onset of skin coloration is caused by blood escaping from ruptured vessels and into your capillaries. It is under the skin, and usually has a diameter of a centimeter or more. It is not the same thing as bruising.

Ecchymosis involves hematomas that are an extravasation of the blood in that thin layer of skin that results from a blood vessel rupture that causes blood to leak into that skin layer. It sometimes looks like a bruise and is even mistaken for one, but they are different conditions. Bruising is blood leaking into the thin layer of skin resulting from trauma, but ecchymosis occurs spontaneously as the result of a causative medical condition.

The larger instance of ecchymosis, purpura, is a purple colored skin patch that results from blood that leaks into the capillaries. The larger sized patches are referred to as ecchymosis, and smaller size patches are called petechiae.

A petechial patch (singular) is about one to two millimeters in size, and red or purple in color. The cause is usually minor bleeding from broken blood vessels in the capillaries. They are never found in sizes greater than three millimeters. The plural term petechiae is usually used, since you’ll rarely notice one single occurrence.

How do Platelets affect the Skin?

Platelets are involved with the purpura of ecchymosis. This condition may have either a low or normal count of platelets. Platelets aren’t true cells – rather, they are blood cell fragments normally found on blood vessel walls.

Platelets are also known as thrombocytes, and their essential duty within the blood is to control bleeding by clotting and clumping injuries to blood vessels. Platelets do not have a nucleus, as most cells do. Rather, they are simple cytoplasm fragments that are found in the marrow of your bones, and then enter the circulatory system.

Platelets that have not yet been activated are shaped like lenses. Interestingly, they are only found in mammals. Other animals like amphibians and birds have thrombocytes that circulate freely as intact cells.

Symptoms of Ecchymosis



Ecchymosis does not usually present a great number of symptoms. There are, however, some general signs that may occur from the medical problems that are causing this disorder of the skin. Some of the common symptoms and signs include:

  • The occurrence of discolored patches, which may be red, purplish or blue colored
  • Inflammation and skin swelling may occur in areas around the spots of ecchymosis. Whether it does depends on how severely damaged the tissues are.
  • Some patients do experience pain, but it is not common.
  • In serious and extreme cases, skin discoloration may spread to adjacent areas.
  • Hematoma and ecchymosis occur when blood seeps into the tissue from damaged areas. They can appear different from one site to the next.

Causes of Ecchymosis

Ecchymosis is generally considered to be harmless. It is, though, a symptom of at least one and possibly more underlying conditions that require medical intervention and attention. The onset may be the body’s mild inflammatory response or it may be more complex.

The patches of skin that become discolored are associated with ecchymosis. They are brought about by rupturing of the blood vessels, followed by leakage of the blood into the thin skin layer, mucous membranes or tissues. The blood can’t escape the body, since there are no breaks or cuts in the skin at the site affected; for this reason, it collects beneath the surface of the skin, and causes the reddish, purplish or blueish discoloration of ecchymosis.

  • Multiple myeloma

Myelomas are defined as malignant cells in your plasma. They are a white blood cell type, which is typically found in bone marrow. An increase of anomalous plasma cell growth in the marrow can indicate the progress of the underlying disease. This causes abnormalities in the blood and leads to ecchymosis.

  • Leukemia

This is a cancer type where malignant cells are found in the tissues that work to form the blood. The activation of ecchymosis is caused by an increasing number of white blood cells. Leukemia symptoms, in addition to ecchymosis, are bleeding and bruising.

  • Myelofibrosis

This is a fibrosis formation in the tissues of the bone marrow. It damages your body’s production of blood cells.

  • Acute kidney failure

Symptoms of this disease include weakening and loss of kidney function. This impacts waste elimination of the system in a negative way. That in turn increases the toxic content and waste in your blood. This accumulation of excess waste eventually triggers discoloration of your skin.

  • Cirrhosis of the liver

Anomalies in your liver function may be caused by liver scarring or other problems. They can be brought on by various liver diseases. Improper or dysfunctional liver function may alter the composition of your blood, leading to ecchymosis.

  • Coagulopathy

This term refers to a bleeding disorder, where there is impairment in the blood’s ability to coagulate. It may cause excessive bleeding, which sometimes occurs after dental or medical procedures, or injuries. Coagulopathies including Hemophilia A have been known to cause the formation of ecchymosis in children.

Treatment for Ecchymosis

You can manage ecchymosis at home, and it usually will resolve without medical intervention. However, if you experience severe pain and frequent ecchymosis symptoms, this requires medical attention. The treatment for ecchymosis is dependent on the underlying medical problem that caused the appearance of the skin coloring.

Treatment for ecchymosis may include the following:

  • Application of ice will facilitate the constriction of the blood vessels that have ruptured, which helps to keep ecchymosis from spreading to nearby areas.
  • Rest will promote healing of the tissues and is recommended in order to shorten the healing time and repair of ecchymosis.
  • Stretching exercises and light massage may help to facilitate repair of the damaged tissue, as long as they don’t exacerbate the condition by causing more blood vessel or tissue damage.
  • Pain relievers like ibuprofen are helpful in reducing any pain that accompanies ecchymosis.
  • Elevating the site that is affected is helpful in slowing inflammation. Elevation will facilitate proper blood return, while it improves the circulation at the site that is affected.

Here are some Photographs of Ecchymosis

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