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Bleeding into the skin

Ecchymoses; Skin spots - red; Pinpoint red spots on the skin; Petechiae; Purpura

Bleeding into the skin can occur from broken blood vessels that form tiny red dots (called petechiae). Blood also can collect under the tissue in larger flat areas (called purpura), or in a very large bruised area (called an ecchymosis).

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Considerations

Aside from the common bruise, bleeding into the skin or mucous membranes is a very significant sign and should always be checked out by a health care provider.

Redness of the skin (erythema) should not be mistaken for bleeding. Areas of bleeding under the skin do not become paler (blanch) when you press on the area, like the redness from erythema does.

Causes

Many things can cause bleeding under the skin. Some of them are:

Home Care

Protect aging skin. Avoid trauma such as bumping or pulling on skin areas. For a cut or scrape, use direct pressure to stop the bleeding.

If you have a drug reaction, ask your provider about stopping the drug. Otherwise, follow your prescribed therapy to treat the underlying cause of the problem.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Contact your provider if:

What to Expect at Your Office Visit

Your provider will examine you and ask questions about the bleeding, such as:

The following diagnostic tests may be performed:

Related Information

Bruise
Purpura
Rashes
Paleness

References

Hayward CPM. Clinical approach to the patient with bleeding or bruising. In: Hoffman R, Benz EJ, Silberstein LE, et al, eds. Hematology: Basic Principles and Practice. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 128.

Juliano JJ, Cohen MS, Weber DJ. The acutely ill patient with fever and rash. In: Bennett JE, Dolin R, Blaser MJ, eds. Mandell, Douglas, and Bennett's Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 57.

Schafer AI. Approach to the patient with bleeding and thrombosis. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 26th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 162.

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Review Date: 5/13/2019  

Reviewed By: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Clinical Associate Professor, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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