is it a bruise or a hematoma?

What Is a Hematoma?

Hematomas are larger bleeds that often involve larger blood vessels. With a hematoma, the leaking blood will pool and clot, or form clumps of blood. This can cause a firm and tender mass.

Hematomas can develop deep within the body, like in a muscle or in or around an internal organ. They can also form beneath the skin, on the scalp, nose, ears, or under a nail.

When it is closer to the surface of the skin, the hematoma may appear as a painful red, black, or blue lump. As it breaks down, the skin will eventually change to a yellow or brown color.

Hematoma on upper leg.

Unlike bruises, hematomas can cause serious harm. If they get large enough, they may cause blood pressure to drop. They can even lead to shock, a life threatening condition that happens when organs in the body don’t get enough blood or oxygen . Very large hematomas can cause organs to shift and affect how they function.

The most dangerous and life-threatening hematomas are in the brain and skull. With these, the blood can become trapped within the skull and put pressure on the brain.

This can cause:

  • Brain damage
  • A coma, or a state of long term unconsciousness
  • Paralysis, or weakness or total loss of movement in the muscles in part of your body
  • Seizure, or a sudden burst of uncontrolled activity in the brain

Healing time ranges from weeks to months, depending on the size and location of the hematoma.Bruises

  • Localized bleeding from smaller blood vessels under the skin
  • Flat and tender to the touch
  • Usually heals without medical attention within two weeks
  • Generally has few complications


  • Pooling of blood due to leakage from larger vessels
  • Raised, firm, and painful
  • May require medical care and take weeks or months to heal
  • Some can cause serious and even life-threatening complications

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