Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Marcia's Nose, or "The Subject Was Bruises"

Gather around everyone; it’s time for a family meeting. We had a bit of an incident earlier today, but let’s see if we can’t turn this accident into a learning opportunity.

Marcia, please come to the front of the room; don’t be shy. Marcia took a direct hit from a football today, smack in the nose. This type of injury, where there is nothing penetrating the skin, is called blunt trauma, and bruises are a very common physical response. If you look around the area of impact on Marcia’s nose, you can see where the skin appears discolored and swollen, and may be sensitive. Oh, sorry dear, I suppose it is sensitive, then.

The incident. "Oh, my nose!"

Can anyone tell me why Marcia’s face looks so funny? Oh, don’t be offended, dear, this is merely for the sake of science.

The force of the football hitting Marcia’s face broke blood vessels, causing blood to collect beneath her skin. Blood vessels run underneath every inch of your skin to provide blood to different areas, keeping your body healthy and alive. The tiniest of these blood vessels are called capillaries, and they are the closest to the skin.

The offensive instrument.

Blood vessels are generally pretty good at staying intact, but when that football hit Marcia in the face, it caused some of her capillaries to break. Blood spilled into the surrounding tissues, where it clotted and formed a bruise. The darker color of the blood is visible beneath her skin, and that’s why Marcia’s nose is a different color than the rest of her face at the moment.

All bruises have a shared cause: internal bleeding, during which blood escapes the vessels and collects inside the body. Don’t worry Cindy, your sister’s going to be fine. Marcia’s contusion, which is just a fancy name for a bruise, will clear up on its own in a matter of weeks.

The injury. She can't possibly go to the dance with Doug this way! She just can't!

Since the football whacked Marcia’s face recently, the escaped blood is still visible just below the skin and the bruise looks dark and reddish, but over the next couple days Marcia’s body will break down the bruise and reabsorb the blood. As this happens, the bruise will turn from the darker reddish color that it is now to a blue-ish or purple-y color. After about a week, the bruise will look green, a few days later it will be yellowed, and then it will disappear entirely. Marcia may even be healed in time for the dance! Don’t get too excited Marcia; I only said “may.”

At this point, the damage is done and Marcia’s body has already begun the process of recuperating. There is no way to “undo” a bruise, but if you act quickly you can minimize the damage. An ice-pack or cold compress can help keep down swelling and might slow down blood flow to the area so that the bruise won’t end up being as large. 

Any cold treatment should be applied immediately after the accident for about ten to fifteen minutes at a time, and only through a paper towel or cloth, as direct contact can cause frostbite. If possible, it’s a good idea to keep the injured area elevated above your heart so that gravity isn’t making the bruise bigger by helping blood pool there.

Now only time will heal these wounds, and Marcia’s nose will be a lovely mural of color for the next few weeks. Let’s all be sure to watch out for errant footballs in the future.

The lovely family, plus witty house-slave.

More information from MedicineNet
More information from Lady Sultry (don't stray from the bruises page...)
More on Marcia and her tragic incident 

editor's note: this article got me in A in class, and it didn't even include the awesome pictures. booyah.

All drawings are (obviously) original creations and are the property of Zu's News. Images may not be reproduced without express permission from Zu's News, although you could just draw something better yourself.


  1. This is an excellent article. I'm printing it to put it on my fridge at home.

  2. The likelihood of bruising, and severity of it, increases as one ages, because elderly human skin becomes thinner and less elastic.

  3. Woo Hoo! Zu!
    Kool Blog... Gotta get me one of them bruises to verify your article!