Hematoma

A hematoma is a pocket of blood that collects under the skin, in an organ, in a body space, in a joint space, or in other tissue. The blood can clot to form a lump that you can see and feel. The lump is often firm, sore, and sometimes even painful and tender. Most hematomas get better in a few days to weeks. However, some hematomas may be serious and require medical care. Hematomas can range in size from very small to very large.

CAUSES

A hematoma can be caused by a blunt or penetrating injury. It can also be caused by leakage from a blood vessel under the skin. Spontaneous leakage from a blood vessel is more likely to occur in elderly people, especially those taking blood thinners. Sometimes, a hematoma can develop after certain medical procedures.

SYMPTOMS

Unlike a bruise, a hematoma forms a firm lump that you can feel. This lump is the collection of blood. The collection of blood can also cause your skin to turn a blue to dark blue color. If the hematoma is close to the surface of the skin, it often produces a yellowish color in the skin.

DIAGNOSIS

Your caregiver can determine whether you have a hematoma based on your history and a physical exam.

TREATMENT

Hematomas usually go away on their own over time. Rarely does the blood need to be drained out of the body.

HOME CARE INSTRUCTIONS

  • Put ice on the injured area.

  • Put ice in a plastic bag.

  • Place a towel between your skin and the bag.

  • Leave the ice on for 15 to 20 minutes, 3 to 4 times a day for the first 1 to 2 days.

  • After the first 2 days, switch to using warm compresses on the hematoma.

  • Elevate the injured area to help decrease pain and swelling. Wrapping the area with an elastic bandage may also be helpful. Compression helps to reduce swelling and promotes shrinking of the hematoma. Make sure the bandage is not wrapped too tight.

  • If your hematoma is on a lower extremity and is painful, crutches may be helpful for a couple days.

  • Only take over-the-counter or prescription medicines for pain, discomfort, or fever as directed by your caregiver. Most patients can take acetaminophen or ibuprofen for the pain.

SEEK IMMEDIATE MEDICAL CARE IF:

  • You have increasing pain, or your pain is not controlled with medicine.

  • You have a fever.

  • You have worsening swelling or discoloration.

  • Your skin over the hematoma breaks or starts bleeding.

MAKE SURE YOU:

  • Understand these instructions.

  • Will watch your condition.

  • Will get help right away if you are not doing well or get worse.