Most bruises and contusions will heal without the need for any kind of medical treatment, the bleeding which generally accompanies bruises can be reduced if cold compresses are applied very soon after the injury has occurred. This will also help to relieve any swelling, pain and nasty discoloration.
In the case of severe bruises or contusions, the area which has been injured should be slightly elevated, and after a period of rest, it may be advisable to apply heat to the affected area. It's possible for some fairly serious complications to occur with bruises that are more powerful in nature. In general, after a bruised area of the body has had a few days to recover from the impact, blood will be drawn away from the impact area, and a return to normality can begin. However, in some cases, blood clots form at the side of impact, a cyst may form which eventually calcifies and must be surgically removed. There's also a possibility that bruises and contusions can become complicated by infection, in which case medical treatment would also be necessary.
Some kinds of contusions may be especially worrisome due to the area of the body where they occur. For instance, a cerebral contusion which develops after trauma to the head can cause collections of blood in the area of impact, and this can result in neurological problems for the person affected. It has been known for people who sustain contusions or bruises to the head to suffer from epileptic seizures.
The most common way that bruises and contusions occur in the body is when people bump into something which causes trauma to the point of impact on the skin. There can also be much more severe contusions which occur as a result of more traumatic occurrences, such as falling down a flight of stairs. Situations like this can induce bruising over a significant surface area of the skin and can cause severe pain and swelling, as well as general discoloration over a major area.
It's also possible for bruises to occur on people who routinely engage in vigorous exercise, for instance, weightlifters and other kinds of athletes. Even though there is no direct impact trauma to areas of the skin, bruises and contusions can develop because there are small tears in the blood vessels directly beneath the skin.
In elderly people, bruises can often occur because their skin has a tendency to thin out with advancing age, which means there is much less protection for underlying blood vessels and tissue. This also means that much less impact trauma is necessary in order to produce bruising, it is not an indication that elderly people simply bump into things more often.
It happens fairly often that people who take certain medications which tend to thin the blood are more prone to developing bruises, because skin tissue can also thin out to some degree, and these bruises should be monitored and reported to the family doctor.
Sometimes, bruising occurs when there is no apparent explanation for the bruise, for instance, nosebleeds, or bleeding which occurs around the gum lines. When there has been no impact trauma at all to the affected area, it could indicate some kind of a bleeding disorder, and if this happens more than once or twice for a person, it should be reported to the family doctor so that some testing can be done to ascertain the underlying cause.
It should also be borne in mind that the cause of some so-called unexplained bruises are actually caused by impact traumas, which are later forgotten by the individual who suffered the bump in the first place. Especially when there is no direct pain involved at the precise moment of the bumping or impact trauma, it can be very easy to forget that such a bump ever took place, and later when the discoloration and swelling appears, it might appear to be an unexplained bruise.
If you find that you are in extreme pain after suffering a severe bruise, which would be one of the cases where you should contact your doctor, so that some kind of pain reliever can be recommended. If you are taking blood-thinning medications, that's another reason for contacting your family doctor, or if there is no apparent reason for the bruising that you are suffering from.
If the bruise which you have incurred is situated anywhere near the head or has happened somewhere around a toenail or a fingernail, these are all cases which should generally be consulted with the family doctor.
Any bruising which occurs and has not cleared up within two weeks should also be reported to the family doctor, to be sure that blood clotting has not occurred, and that no cysts are in the process of forming. If you suspect that a bone has been broken or fractured at the same time as the bruising occurred, consult with your doctor to be sure.
Bruises which occur around the eyes or in the area of the head or neck can cause goose eggs, which are pronounced swellings at the impact site, they may be cause for concern as well. If you can remember the event which occurred to cause the head injury, and you did not lose consciousness at the time of impact, it is less likely that any severe injury has occurred to the head. On the other hand, if you did suffer a concussion at the time of impact, this is cause for concern and you should contact your doctor immediately about the bruise.
Bruises which occur near the eyes will often travel below the eye due to gravity, and cause very noticeable discoloration, commonly referred to as a black eye. This is not usually a serious issue, and it does not require medical attention, as long as you can still move the affected eye in every direction, and you don't notice any negative impact on your vision.