Sunday, April 29, 2012

Aging skin bruising

It is not uncommon for a friend or relative to corner me with a worried look on his face and ask me about bruising on the arms or legs.  It is one of the more common concerns of patients in the office too.  People are worried that it is a harbinger of leukemia or some other blood disorder.  "Look at my skin.  These spots just appear for no reason.  What are they?"

What I'm seeing is the natural effect of aging and sun damaged skin.  The medical term is "Senile Purpura"...a term I actually hate and pronounce "sanili purpura"  just to make it sound better for patients.   It is simply easy bruising that shows through thin dermis.  Many people are taking aspirin or blood thinners that make the capillaries fragile.  Couple that with the lack of subcutaneous fat and elasticity that occurs with aging and you have purplish bruises that look positively frightful.  These bruises usually appear on the forearms or backs of the hands and shins.

There is no treatment for senile purpura.  It is not a marker for any serious disorder.  There have been some studies that show over-the-counter arnica montana ointment can help clear the reddish appearance faster.

It is never too late to protect the skin from damaging effects of the sun.  Giving arnica montana gel or capsules a try might help too.  Let me know if it does.


Soon to be Divorced said...

I'm 48, have never spent a lot of time in the sun and started to get small areas of this on my arms. Taking vitamin K (MK7 90 mcg daily) has completely reversed it. My arms haven't had one spot since I started taking it.

Anonymous said...

glad to know vitamin K can treat such bruising.

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