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The Difference between a Bruise and a Blood Clot

When a person has been injured, bruising can occur, and when there is an open wound, blood clotting occurs as well. It is quite difficult to discern the difference between the two, especially if you are not medically inclined. So, to better understand the difference between a bruise and a blood clot, read on.


A bruise is a bluish discoloration and tenderness of the mucous membranes underneath the skin brought about by trauma or injury. This damages the capillaries causing blood to seep out to the surrounding tissues. Bruises are bluish in color because the level of oxygen within the site is very low, it will stay the same not unless the injured site is back to its oxygenated state.

*Note: Ecchymosis is commonly confused with a bruise, but keep in mind that ecchymosis is a type of Purpura caused by a disease condition, while a bruise is a result of trauma or injury. Purpura appears tiny red spots that may indicate a much serious medical problem.

People who bruise easily are thought to have vitamin deficiency and basically have lower blood levels compared to healthy individuals. In addition to this, there are some disease conditions that decrease the rate of vitamin absorptions.

Blood Clot

Blood clotting is a normal occurrence in the body to limit blood loss by sealing the damaged blood vessels. Basically, there are two processes involved in blood clotting, these are:

  • Platelet Activation and Aggregation

Platelet activation and aggregation occurs at the site of injury. This is prevents bleeding and blood loss.

  • Formation of Fibrin Filaments

Fibrin is formed when there is a chemical change form a soluble protein known as fibrinogen, which is present in the blood. The fibrin aggregates to form filaments that embroil blood cells, leading to a clot.

In some cases, when a person has abnormal clotting factors, Thrombus or Emboli can form. These types of blood clots happen when the blood abnormally coagulates within a vein or an artery. These are quite dangerous, especially when these dislodge and break loose. These clots may travel towards the vital organs clogging the vessels and disrupting the blood flow. An example of this is when a clot blocks the blood vessels of the heart, preventing blood flow leading to heart attack.

Bruise and Blood Clot – The Comparison




Blood Clot


Definition Blood leaks into the underlying tissues underneath the skin. A formation of clump of blood within the site of injury or within the blood vessels.
Appearance Bluish or purplish discoloration of the skin, which is painful upon palpation. A dark jellylike substance.
Etiology Trauma or Injury in the capillaries or the blood vessels.
  • Blood Vessel Injury
  • Abnormal Clotting Factor
Location Occurs outside the blood vessels and are seen as a bluish discoloration on the skin.
  • Occurs on the site of injury
  • Occurs within blood vessels and further diagnostic examination such as Doppler Ultrasound is required to further evaluate the location and the severity of the blood clot.
Treatment A bruise can be treated by applying cold compress initially and then warm compress later on. Normally, this resolves within 2-3 days depending on the severity. However, if there are other underlying conditions, bruising may resolve for days even weeks. Blood thinner is usually administered to individuals who have blood clots or who are prone to blood clots. This prevents the possibility of the clot from disrupting the blood flow inside the vessels.

Compared to a bruise, abnormal blood clots are far more dangerous, and if untreated or undiagnosed, this can cause detrimental effects and can be life threatening. If you suspect that you may have a blood clot, it is very essential to seek for prompt medical attention.

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