Bruises in a Close Fight: A Look into the Markings of Physical Altercations

Shivendra Pratap Singh


High Court Lucknow

Medico Legal

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Published on: 13 Aug, 2023

Close fights or physical altercations often result in a range of injuries. Among the most common non-penetrative injuries are bruises or contusions. These are caused by trauma to the skin and underlying tissues without breaking the skin. In the realm of forensics and medical examination, the nature, location, and appearance of bruises can offer insights into the dynamics of the altercation. Let’s delve deeper into the subject.

1. What Causes a Bruise?

Bruises appear when blood vessels under the skin rupture due to blunt force or trauma, causing blood to leak into the surrounding tissue. The body will eventually reabsorb this blood, but in the meantime, it can cause a noticeable discoloration.

2. The Evolution of a Bruise’s Appearance:

A bruise can provide clues to its age:

  • Fresh Bruise: Typically reddish soon after the injury.
  • 1-2 Days: It may turn blue or dark purple.
  • 3-6 Days: The hue might shift to green.
  • 7-14 Days: It may turn yellow or brown before eventually fading.

3. Bruises in a Close Fight: Common Locations

  • Facial Bruises: Especially around the eyes (black eyes), nose, and mouth. These are often a result of punches or slaps.
  • Forearm and Upper Arm Bruises: These can indicate defensive wounds, as individuals instinctively raise their arms to protect their head and face.
  • Torso Bruises: Suggest blows to the body, potential grappling, or being pushed against a hard surface.
  • Leg Bruises: Can result from kicks or from being knocked down.

4. Factors Influencing Bruise Severity:

  • Age: Older individuals often bruise more easily due to thinner skin and weakened blood vessels.
  • Medications: Certain medications, like blood thinners, can exacerbate bruising.
  • Health Conditions: Diseases that affect blood clotting can result in more pronounced bruising.
  • Force of Impact: The stronger the force, the more severe the bruise is likely to be.

5. Importance for Forensics and Law Enforcement:

Bruises can be significant in forensic examinations, helping piece together the events leading to an injury. The location, size, and age of a bruise can corroborate or dispute testimonies, aiding in both investigation and subsequent legal proceedings.

6. Treatment and Care:

For minor bruises:

  • Cold Compress: Applying a cold pack immediately after the injury can reduce swelling and pain.
  • Elevation: Raising the bruised area, when possible, can minimize blood flow and limit the size of the bruise.
  • Over-the-counter Pain Relievers: Non-prescription pain meds can help alleviate pain, but always consult with a healthcare professional before use.


Bruises from a close fight can tell a story. Whether you’re a medical professional assessing the damage, law enforcement determining the nature of an altercation, or an individual understanding their injuries, it’s crucial to know the intricacies of bruises. Furthermore, while self-defense is a natural instinct, avoiding physical confrontations and seeking non-violent resolutions is always the safest option. If you find yourself in such situations frequently or are a victim of violence, seek help immediately.


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