Contusion: This is a bruise and is caused by an impact with a hard object or pressure that causes the blood vessels under the skin to burst and blood to leak out into the cellular space. Typically appears as a range of colors in a localized area on the skin. Current literature states that bruises cannot be reliably dated. They can be “patterned” as is commonly seen in a slap to the face or fingermarks from grabbing.

Dating of Bruises: The most common question I am asked is whether or not you can date bruises. The short answer is no. Many experts will still attempt to date bruises based on color, tenderness and/or swelling but the literature shows that this is only accurate between 30-50% of the time.

Other studies show varying ages based on color:

  • red, the color commonly associated with a new bruise, can be up to a week old.
  • Blue and purple, also associated with recent bruises, can show up anytime between Day 1 and Day 14.
  • Despite being associated with “old” bruises, yellow shows up as soon as 24 hours and green as soon as 48 hours.

Note: All of the studies mentioned were focused on children, there are other studies available for all ages.


This month’s criminal topic is Cuts and Bruises (Blunt Force Trauma). Topics covered are:

  • Bruises and dating of them (10/3/14)
  • Abrasions and Lacerations  (10/10/14)
  • Multiple Injuries (10/17/14)
  • Patterned Injuries (10/24/14)
  • GBI/SBI/Legal Implications (10/31/14)

Note: To see all posts in this topic, click here

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