Difference Between Bruising and Hematoma

Although they can have a similar appearance, bruises and hematomas are not the same. Small blood vessels under the skin burst and bleed, resulting in a bruise. Blood pooling outside of a blood artery leads to a hematoma.


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While some of the same factors can lead to both bruises and hematomas, hematoma-causing injuries are frequently significantly more severe.

Given their comparable soreness and reddish appearance, a bruise and hematoma are easily confused. Hematomas and bruises, however, differ slightly from one another.

Technically speaking, a hematoma is similar to a bruise, but hematomas are frequently considerably more serious than bruises, according to Jenna Liphart Rhoads, a registered nurse and nursing educator at NurseTogether.

Key Takeaways

  1. Bruising and hematoma result from blood pooling under the skin due to broken blood vessels, but a hematoma is larger and more localized than a bruise.
  2. Bruising is generally minor and resolves independently, while hematomas may require medical intervention in severe cases.
  3. Both bruises and hematomas can be caused by trauma, but hematomas may also occur after surgery or in conjunction with certain medical conditions.

Bruising vs Hematoma

Bruising refers to the purple black or blue staining of the skin after healing from a injury and bleeding under skin. It is also called contusion. When blood gets collected outside the blood or skin giving a discolored round swollen shape due to any injury or accident it is called Hematoma.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonBruisingHematomas
DefinitionAny injury affected by small blood vesselsAn accumulation of blood in the area of an injury
DiagnosisThe appearance of the affected areaThe presence of a bruised area. In the case of the head, an MRI or CT can diagnose a subdural hematoma.
causeHitting your body against a hard object or walking into somethingPhlebotomist injuring a blood vessel; hitting your head, breaking a bone.
TreatmentApplying Ice pack on the affected area then take a restAlso, using an ice pack works but Surgery is usually required for a subdural hematoma
symptomsA red area that changes from to purple then yellow over a number of daysSwelling, pain and a bruise in the affected area of injury. However, signs of head hematomas are headache,nausea, dizziness and confusion

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What is Bruise?

A bruise, also known as a contusion, is a bleeding into the skin brought on by the rupture of tiny blood vessels. If there isn’t a breach in the skin, the blood will remain there and stain it. Muscles and bones can also bleed when they are bruised.

Petechiae and purpura are two other kinds of subcutaneous bleeding. Purpura are more than 2 mm in size and caused by petechiae, which generates tiny pinpoint spots smaller than that. Ecchymosis refers to a huge bruise that is more than one centimeter in size.

When you harm yourself in any way, a bruise results. Bruising is frequently caused by slamming against something or falling. After having an IV inserted into your arm, bruises are also typical.

Some persons have a higher chance of getting bruised. People who have purpura simplex, for instance, bruise very quickly. Bruises are more likely to occur when taking aspirin and anticoagulant medications.

However, physical characteristics are used to make diagnoses. When a bruise first develops, it is initially red. Later, it turns into a purple patch, and then, after a few days, it turns yellow. Bruises can be a sign of significant underlying illnesses, thus it is recommended to see your doctor if you bruise frequently and for no apparent cause.

In addition, bruises typically heal on their own. Applying an ice pack to the injured area will work, although it is not always necessary.

What is Hematomas?

A hematoma, which is a collection of blood, frequently develops after being bruised. It is a more serious wound than a straightforward bruise. It is caused by bleeding from a vascular structure, which includes important organs.

Hematomas can develop in several locations, even deep within the body. You will see discolouration resembling a bruise when it occurs close to the skin.

A shattered bone is just one of the many possible causes. Hematomas can also be brought on by head trauma. A blood test can become complicated if a phlebotomist unintentionally pokes a needle through a blood vessel wall. Hematomas can also be caused by leukemia and blood coagulation issues. Hematatoma risk factors include alcoholism and using anticoagulant medication.

However, it can be identified by observing the presence of a bruised region. The area will also hurt. Neurological symptoms such as disorientation, headaches, nausea, and dizziness may be present in the case of a subdural hematoma. The person frequently has a history of hurting their head.

While the type of hematoma will determine the course of treatment. Simple hematomas under the skin can be treated by applying an ice pack for about 20 minutes at a time; this will reduce any discomfort and swelling. An IV or blood test-related hematoma typically disappears on its own. To avoid harm to the cerebrum, a hematoma in the brain or between the brain and dural membrane must be surgically drained.

Main Differences Between Bruising and Hematomas

  1. A bruise is an injury that results in the small blood vessels breaking and leaking under the skin. The skin becomes painful to the touch and turns discolored as a result. Bruises generally change color as they start to heal, going from red to blue, purple, or black. The bruise will first turn yellow or green, then ultimately light brown as the body starts to absorb the blood and repair the area.
  2. While a hematoma develops when a major blood artery is injured. It’s a moderate to severe injury that results in blood to gather, pool, and clot under the skin, giving it a spongy, rubbery, or lumpy feeling. Hematomas can develop anywhere in the body and are usually not a cause for alarm. Some, however, constitute medical crises, such as an intracranial hematoma, or brain hemorrhage.
  3. Another distinction is that bruising might be brought on by a bump, a sickness like leukemia, or both. A hematoma may develop as a result of phlebotomy, trauma, shattered bones, or bleeding on the brain.
  4. Bruises are also identified based on how they appear. The appearance of a bruise and a CT or MRI scan are used to diagnose hematomas (for brain hematoma).
  5. Additionally, bruises have a reddened region that over several days turns purple, then yellow. Although a hematoma looks like a bruise, it also exhibits symptoms like pain and swelling. Dizziness and nausea are other symptoms of a brain hematoma.
  6. Furthermore, treating a bruise is not usually needed but you can use an ice pack. Treating a hematoma involves using an ice pack; in the case of a subdural hematoma, surgery is needed
  1. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/0974150X20060403
  2. https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/40a0/ddf0412f1578ff3c427f79620fa9c392a084.pdf
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