Can Bruises be Dated?

Courtesy of Godoy Medical Forensics



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 to 50 percent 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.