Courtney L. McFaddin, M.D., GHS Carolina Dermatology of Greenville
Here are the hard facts on easy bruising …
Purple blotches on the forearms are common, particularly if you like to bask in the sun. These annoying spots resemble bruises, but unlike true bruises, these spots are not painful, and you may have no recollection of the injury that caused them to appear. This unfortunate side effect of chronic sun exposure is called solar (or actinic) purpura.
Over time, skin exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays can damage your dermal collagen. The most well-known side effect of this damage is wrinkles, but another result of damaged collagen is easy bruising. Dermal collagen strengthens skin and supplies a framework of protection around your blood vessels. Collagen altered by UV rays no longer provides a rigid support network for your vasculature. As a result, even minor trauma can cause bleeding into your skin. Throw in a few blood-thinning medications, such as aspirin or Coumadin, and the results can be unsightly.
What can you do to fix damaged collagen?
Prevention is best. Broad-spectrum sunscreens containing physical blockers, such as titanium dioxide or zinc oxide, go a long way toward blocking harmful UVA and UVB rays. Some sunscreens containing these products include Dermal Resolutions’ Prime Protection and Sheer Physical Sunscreen along with Colorescience’s Sunforgettable powder brush sunscreen—these are available at Carolina Aesthetics. The sun protection factor (SPF) also is important; generally, the higher the better, but an SPF of at least 30 is needed to adequately protect your skin. Minimizing trauma to the skin by wearing protective sleeves can help, too. Plus, supplements containing citrus bioflavonoids, such as Excipial for Bruising or Purpurex, can speed the resolution of purpura.
Recent studies show that topical application of human epidermal growth factors, such as our Neocutis products, also can strengthen collagen and decrease purpura. Topical creams containing vitamin K, such as Auriderm gel, may help fade spots more quickly. Prescription-strength retinoids, such as Retin-A, can strengthen dermal collagen to a small degree. The same is true for over-the-counter retinol and products containing alpha-hydroxy acids. Interested in a more immediate way to improve the appearance of solar purpura? Cover the areas with a strong foundation such as Dermablend Cover Creme to help camouflage these spots until they fade.
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