Wow, you just noticed yet another bruise on your arm or leg and you have no idea how you got it. What’s going on? Women in perimenopause or menopause frequently experience bruising, but why does it happen and what can they do about it?
What is bruising?
A bruise is a mark on the skin caused by blood that becomes trapped under the surface. When an injury such as a bump or blow occurs, often to the hands, feet, arms, hips, and legs, it can crush small blood vessels (capillaries) but does not break the skin. The vessels leak blood under the skin, and the area can become swollen and painful. Bruising can take several weeks or longer to fade. Bruises typically begin with a reddish color and transforms into purple-bluish and yellow-greenish before the body reabsorbs the blood and the bruise disappears.
Bruising may be caused by use of certain medications that can affect the ability of your blood to clot. These include aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen sodium, anticoagulant drugs (e.g., warfarin, dabigatran, heparin), anti-platelet agents (e.g., clopidogrel, ticagrelor), some antibiotics and antidepressants, topical and systemic corticosteroids, and dietary supplements such as ginkgo biloba.
People generally bruise easier as they get older because the skin becomes thinner and there is less fat to help cushion the blood vessels. Aging also weakens tissues that support capillaries. In addition, if you got a lot of exposure to the sun in your younger years, you are also more likely to bruise because the skin thins much faster.
How is bruising associated with menopause?
Your skin health depends a great deal on estrogen, as the hormone promotes collagen production that helps keep skin firm and strong. It also is involved in making oils that keep skin moist. As estrogen levels decline, the loss of collagen and oils results in drier skin that is more likely to bruise. In fact, women tend to lose about 30 percent of skin collagen during the first five years after menopause and about 2 percent per year thereafter.
How can you manage bruising in menopause naturally?
Being more mindful of your environment is one way to help avoid bruising, but once they occur, there are some natural supplements that may help reduce inflammation and improve healing.
- Arnica montana: This homeopathic remedy is available as a tincture and gel that can be rubbed onto the affected site. Some research indicates it can “reduce post-procedural edema and bruising.”
- Bilberry: Extracts of this herb reportedly may help stabilize collagen and make capillary walls stronger, according to Dr. Andrew Weil. Research indicates the extract can help with low-grade inflammation.
- Bromelain: Pineapples are the source of this natural remedy. Several studies and reports have noted the benefits of bromelain for bruising, including one in Alternative Medicine Review in which the authors noted that “Bromelain reduces edema, bruising, pain, and healing time following trauma.”
- Vitamin C: This vitamin helps with collagen synthesis. If you bruise easily, take 200 mg vitamin C daily, says alternative medicine guru Dr. Andrew Weil.
- Pycnogenol: The bark of a specific maritime pine tree that grows in southwest France contains chemicals that may improve blood flow and reduce swelling. Pycnogenol is the trademarked name for this particular extract. Try our Morphus Pycnogenol.
Other remedies for easing bruising include:
- Ice your bruise within 24 hours of the incident to reduce inflammation. If possible, elevate the injured area above your heart.
- Apply an elastic bandage (but not too tight) to help reduce blood flow to better control the bleeding and minimize the bruise.
- Avoid foods that may make capillaries more fragile, such as green tea and red wine.
- Eat papaya, which contains an ingredient (papain) that may help break down dead materials responsible for bruising. You may also take a papain supplement.
- Enjoy more foods with vitamin K that can help the blood be less likely to leak from the capillaries. Some suggestions include spinach, broccoli, kale, cabbage, and other leafy greens.
When to call your doctor?
Most bruises are harmless and go away without treatment. However, if you experience a lot of bruising for no apparent reason, consult with your doctor. It may be a sign of medications you are taking or a medical issue.
Bruising in perimenopause and menopause is typically not serious. Many women find they can cover a bruise with makeup until it heals. However, bruising that is persistent or accompanied by pain or swelling that doesn’t go away should be seen by a doctor.