Ask The Experts

I have thin skin and bruise easily

A long-sleeved shirt can hide bruises and protect your skin

Q The skin on my forearm often bleeds or turns red when it comes into contact with any hard object.

Sometimes, when my hand accidentally hits any hard object, it will begin to bleed under my skin, causing redness.

The red patch will be there for about two to three weeks before completely disappearing.

 It does not cause much pain and there is no itch.

I believe the layer of skin on my hands is very thin and has lost its elasticity due to my age. 

I am 68 years old and I have had this problem for three to four years.

To cover up my ugly skin, I wear long-sleeved shirts all the time. Is there any cure for this condition?

A You have senile purpura.

This refers to the recurrent formation of purplish bruises on your skin (typically forearms) following minor trauma.

It often occurs on the outer forearms and outer surface of the hands because these are areas prone to injury.

As you have mentioned, the condition is self-limiting and resolves completely in a few weeks.

You are also right to suggest that age-related thinning of the skin (and cumulative sun exposure) is the most likely explanation for your tendency to bruise easily .

There is no cure for this harmless condition.

 However, wearing a long- sleeved shirt, apart from concealing the bruises, also serves to protect your skin from further sun damage and thinning of the skin.

If your skin is dry, do moisturise it regularly.

Dryness can cause itching, and scratching can cause tears in the skin and delay the healing of your bruises.

Dr Derrick Aw

Head and senior consultant in the division of dermatology at the National University Hospital

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 16, 2016, with the headline 'I have thin skin and bruise easily'. Print Edition | Subscribe