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Difference Between Ecchymosis and Contusion

Ecchymosis is a large area where blood has leaked out of the capillaries resulting in a purple patch visible just the skin. A contusion is a bruised-looking region resulting from an injury to the blood vessels under the skin.

What is Ecchymosis?


Ecchymosis is a large bruised region (1 cm and larger) where blood from injured vessels has moved into the layers of the skin.

Causes and risk factors:

The cause of ecchymosis is some type of trauma in which blood is accumulating under the skin or it can be due to a medical problem affecting blood clotting. Risk factors include taking medication that reduces blood clotting, such as heparin or warfarin. A disorder such as hemophilia or blood cancer also increases the chances of ecchymosis occurring.

Diagnosis and symptoms:

The medical history of the patient as well as what medicines they are on and what the skin looks like can lead the doctor to diagnose an ecchymosis. The symptom is the presence of a large bruised area on the skin.


The treatment depends on the reason why the person is experiencing repeated ecchymosis. If medication is to blame, a doctor may try another type of medicine. Ice packs can help treat ecchymosis.

What is Contusion?


A contusion is when an injury results in a small bruise forming because of blood capillaries being damaged.

Causes and risk factors:

Injury due to an accident or playing sports can result in a contusion somewhere in or on the body. It is usually a result of some type of blunt impact on the body. While contusions may be on the skin, they can also occur in organs such as the lungs or in the muscles. Athletes are at increased risk of contusions.

Diagnosis and symptoms:

Contusions may be evident on the skin as a bruised area. However, internal contusions such as pulmonary (lung) contusions require an ultrasound or CT scans to diagnose. Skin contusions may be sore and contusions in the lungs cause symptoms like difficulty breathing (dyspnea) and chest pain.


Treatment depends on the cause and location of the contusion. A lung contusion requires supportive care including oxygen therapy. In time, contusions, including of the lungs, heal on their own. Contusions from injury to the arms and legs can be treated with ice packs several times a day to reduce the swelling and pain.

Difference between Ecchymosis and Contusion?


Ecchymosis is a large region on the skin that looks purple because of blood that has leaked out of damaged vessels. A contusion is a small bruised region that can occur on the skin but also on internal organs.


The causes of ecchymosis include injury from bumping yourself or medical conditions like leukemia or hemophilia. The causes of a contusion include blunt force trauma due to some type of accident or athletic injury.


The physical appearance and patient history can lead to a diagnosis of ecchymosis in a patient. The physical appearance on the skin or imaging tests for pulmonary injuries can diagnose a contusion.


Ecchymosis is an area on the skin that is purple in color and is also flat. Symptoms of a contusion vary depending on where it is. If on the skin, a contusion is a small sore bruise; if on the lungs, a person may have trouble breathing and chest pain.


Ecchymosis can be treated with ice packs. Treatment for a skin contusion is also ice packs but for lung contusions, oxygen and other supportive therapy may be required.

Table comparing Ecchymosis and Contusion

Summary of Ecchymosis Vs. Contusion

  • Ecchymosis is a large purple area that is caused by a disorder or trauma.
  • A contusion is due to trauma and can occur on the skin but also on internal organs and muscles.
  • Ecchymosis can be easily treated with ice.
  • Some contusions are treated with ice, but lung contusions are treated using supportive therapy.


Is ecchymosis and hematoma the same?

A hematoma is not the same as an ecchymosis. A hematoma is a patch of coagulated blood under the skin while an ecchymosis is not.

Is bruise and contusion the same?

A bruise and contusion are considered to be the same thing.

What is the difference between ecchymosis and purpura?

While both ecchymosis and purpura are due to bleeding underneath the epidermis, the purpura is a smaller area of less than 1 cm.

Is ecchymosis a bruise?

An ecchymosis is often considered to be a large bruise that is purple in color and usually flat. It is always bigger than 1 cm.

What is an example of ecchymosis?

An example of ecchymosis would be a large purple-colored bruise seen on the skin after an injury. For instance, you bump your leg hard against some object, and then a short while later, this large discolored area appears.

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References :

[0]Beiner, John M., and Peter Jokl. "Muscle contusion injuries: current treatment options." JAAOS-Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons 9.4 (2001): 227-237.

[1]Beiner, John M., and Peter Jokl. "Muscle contusion injuries: current treatment options." JAAOS-Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons 9.4 (2001): 227-237.

[2]Epperla, Narendranath, Joseph J. Mazza, and Steven H. Yale. "A review of clinical signs related to ecchymosis." WMJ 114.2 (2015): 61-5.

[3]Ganie, Farooq Ahmad, et al. "Lung contusion: a clinico-pathological entity with unpredictable clinical course." Bulletin of Emergency & Trauma 1.1 (2013): 7.

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