Landmark Skybox

Breeze-Courier | Taylorville, IL
The Weather Network
Advanced Search
search sponsored by


home : columns : ask the doctors January 22, 2020

11/20/2019 8:00:00 AM
Persistent bruising after break could be hemosiderin staining

Dear Doctor: How long should a bruise last? I broke my fibula nearly nine months ago, but I still have a yellowish discoloration on my shin, above the fracture. What could it be? My doctor is unconcerned.

Dear Reader: When you get a bruise, or contusion, it means that the small blood vessels beneath the skin are damaged and leaking blood. This can occur as the result of a physical injury, certain nutritional deficiencies or a medical condition, such as end-stage kidney disease, leukemia, bleeding disorders and some cancers. When blood seeps into the soft tissues beneath the skin, it causes the dark coloration that we recognize as a bruise.

As a bruise heals, the body breaks down and reabsorbs the blood and lymph fluid released by the injury. During this process, the bruise goes through an array of varied and vivid colors, including bluish-purple, green, yellow and brown. How long it takes for the visible effects of the bruise to vanish depends on the location and the extent of the injury, the person's age and their skin tone. People with pale skin tend to show bruises more readily than those with darker pigmentation, as do the elderly, whose skin becomes thinner with age. In most cases, a bruise will take from two to four weeks to heal completely.

In your case, the injury took place in the fibula, which is the smaller of the two bones of the lower leg. The fibula is long and thin and doesn't bear much weight. Instead, its job is to help stabilize the tibia, or shinbone, as well as the ankle and the muscles of the lower leg. There are several types of fibula fractures, some of which could result in significant bruising.

The fact that visible bruising persists nine months after you broke your leg, and isn't associated with any other symptoms, is consistent with something known as hemosiderin staining. Hemosiderin is a byproduct of the breakdown of red blood cells, which contain iron. It's a protein compound with a brownish-yellow color and acts as a storage system for the iron left behind by the damaged red blood cells. In hemosiderin staining, the compound accumulates beneath the skin and becomes visible. Trauma, such as breaking a bone, is among the potential causes of hemosiderin staining.  

You mentioned in your letter that your physician doesn't believe the persistent color on your shin is a symptom of anything serious. We think it would be a good idea to check whether he or she agrees that hemosiderin staining may indeed be the cause. If the answer is yes, and if the condition bothers you, you have several treatment options. Topical creams can reduce the degree of pigmentation, or lighten the color. If the goal is to minimize the discoloration as much as possible, you can explore laser therapy. As with tattoo removal, it may require multiple sessions to see results.

Eve Glazier, M.D., MBA, is an internist and associate professor of medicine at UCLA Health. Elizabeth Ko, M.D., is an internist and assistant professor of medicine at UCLA Health. Send your questions to, or write: Ask the Doctors, c/o UCLA Health Sciences Media Relations, 10880 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 1450, Los Angeles, CA, 90024. Owing to the volume of mail, personal replies cannot be provided.

Article Comment Submission Form
Please feel free to submit your comments.

If you are looking for the SPEAK OUT submission form, you can find it by clicking here: Speak Out Form

Article comments are not posted immediately to the Web site. Each submission must be approved by the Web site editor, who may edit content for appropriateness. There may be a delay of 24-48 hours for any submission while the web site editor reviews and approves it.

NOTE: All information on this form is required. Your telephone number and email address will not be displayed or shared.
Submit an Article Comment
First Name:
Last Name:
Anti-SPAM Passcode Click here to see a new mix of characters.
This is an anti-SPAM device. It is not case sensitive.

Trinity Dodge Fixed
Dr Paul The Dentist
NewsWebPagesOpinionPeopleObituariesAg & BusinessSportsContact UsLife
Subscriptions | Username & Password Reminder | Change Password | Life

Breeze-Courier & Printing | 212 S Main St. Taylorville, IL 62568 | (217) 824-2233 |

© Copyright 2014 Breeze-Courier & Printing. All Rights Reserved.
Original content may not be reprinted or distributed without the written permission of Breeze-Courier & Printing.

Software © 1998-2020 1up! Software, All Rights Reserved