Hematoma – Overview, Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

Hematoma, also known as blood suffusion in general terms, is a condition when one of the larger blood vessels is damaged or leaks blood into the surrounding tissue. It is often confused with a bruise, but it is not just a bruise.


A hematoma is a collection of blood at one place due to bleeding from one of the blood vessels. The bleeding is internal and looks like a bruise but can cause serious problems if left untreated. The cause and severity of a hematoma need to be examined by medical professionals to rule out any danger and follow an accurate course of treatment if required.

The size of a hematoma depends on the intensity of the injury. It can be the size of a dot or can be large enough to cause worrying blood loss. The damaged blood vessel can be a vein, capillary, or artery.

Talking about the nature of a hematoma, it depends largely on its location. Its nature can vary significantly depending on just that.


In most parts of the body, the symptoms are quite obvious to notice. It commonly includes:

Discoloration: The site of the hematoma is visible under the skin in form of discoloration of the skin above it. The skin can appear to be red, blue, or dark green in colour.

Inflammation: More often than not, an inflammation can be noticed which goes away easily if the hematoma is small in size.

Tenderness: The site of hematoma is tender to touch.

Pain: At times it can be extremely painful as well. The intensity of the pain is felt more when pressure is applied to the area.

Lumps: Some hematomas can be felt as lumps or masses. These lumps are formed when the blood flowing out of the vessels limit themselves in a sac. These lumps are in fact our body's way of preventing massive blood loss.

Hematoma in the skull is altogether different in nature. It should be treated as serious in nature and immediate care should be taken. Following are the expected symptoms which might take up to 72 hours to show up:

  • Severe headache
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Difficulty in moving arms or legs
  • Difficulty in hearing
  • Uneven pupils
  • Inability to swallow
  • Causes

    Injuries - One of the most common reasons of a hematoma being formed is injury. An injury doesn't need to be a severe one to form a hematoma, even a sudden collision of your toe with the bedside can cause a hematoma beneath your toenail. Severe hematomas are similarly formed when the injury is high intensity owing to road accidents, falling from a height, etc.

    Surgical procedures - Yes, even surgical procedures done under complete supervision can lead to formation of hematomas. Dental and cosmetic operations for example, may cause damage to tissues and blood vessels nearby the operated area. Severe hematomas may also occur in major surgeries. The occurrence of it is sometimes already doubted by surgeons and is discussed with the patient group before surgery.

    Blood thinners - Blood thinners like aspirin or dipyridamole can also cause worrying hematomas as they don't let blood clot immediately. When blood thinners are a cause of suspected hematoma, the patient must be taken to emergency for the medical professionals to take immediate action on clotting of the leaked blood and start with the healing process.

    Unidentified Causes - Sometimes there is no particular reason as to why a hematoma did occur. It is possible that the person didn't notice an injury at the moment but later realised a hematoma is formed. It is also possible that no injury took place as such but a hematoma appeared.


    When the injury is minimal, the body starts the healing mechanism itself by starting to clot the blood flowing from the blood vessels. For example, if there is a small coin-sized bruise at the site and you have no physical discomfort, you can expect it to be treated by itself without taking any professional help.

    If the hematoma is under your nail, skin, or soft tissue, the area should be given proper rest. If there is pain, an ice pack can be applied to get relief. It also helps in getting rid of the swelling.

    Sometimes there is a scare that the blood vessel might open again when the wound is still healing. To avoid that, you can wrap or bandage the area around the hematoma.

    In cases where the mechanism of blood clotting fails and bleeding continues, it needs to be done with the help of medicines which depends on individual condition of the patient. A qualified doctor must be consulted in that case to start with the treatment at the earliest.

    As mentioned earlier, the formation of blood-filled sacs or lump is also a possibility in Hematoma. Normally they dissolve themselves but if the blood seepage doesn't stop immediately and the lump fails to dissolve on its own, it might need to be removed surgically by a general or neurosurgeon as per the requirement.