Senile Purpura

By Kira Mayo

You’re getting older. Your 50’s are long gone, and you notice a change in your skin. Whenever you bring home groceries, you develop bruises on your arms. The backs of your hands seem to always be black and blue. What’s going on?

Senile purpura is a common condition of easy bruisablity seen in older patients. Aging and chronic sun exposure lead to damage of the connective tissue in the dermis, the inner layer of the two main layers of cells that make up the skin.  Because they have less protection, blood vessels become more fragile. Those with senile purpura develop persistent dark purple bruises in areas that are prone to trauma.  New bruises can even appear without known trauma and then resolve in a few days. This constant bleeding leads to increased levels of hemosiderin, a protein released from  red blood cells after they are damaged. Increased hemosidernin produces a brownish discoloration that may clear over weeks to months or may be permanent.

Although cosmetically bothering, senile purpura has no health consequences and, therefore, does not require treatment. Since senile purpura is mainly caused by chronic UV damage, prevent prevent it by protecting yourself from the sun.

Reference: The Merck Manual for Healthcare Professionals


One response to “Senile Purpura

  1. I have exactly what you describe, although since I’m only 81 I prefer purpura without the senile appelation. Because I take antacids regularly, my doctor suggested extra B12, because it needs stomach acid to be absorbed.

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