Ageing Bruises



B. Spilsbury defines a bruise as a hurt or injury to the body by a blunt or heavy instrument causing discoloration, but no laceration of the skin. Bruises consist of blood escaping from ruptured capillaries and small veins spreading into the surrounding tissue.

In forensic it can be very important to age bruises. For example in a case of child abuse.

It's very difficult to age a bruise. The only indicator of time is the color of the injury. Now the big question is, at what time the color is changing, and which color is the significant one.

There are some authors that put up a table on the time sequence of color changes in bruises:


red immediate
dusky purple / black soon after
green days 4 -5
Yellow days 7 - 10
resolution days 14 - 15


violet immediate
blue day 3
green days 5 - 7
yellow days 8 - 10
resolution days 13 - 18

Polson and Gee:

red dark / red black < 24 h
greenish tinge around day 7
yellow around day 14
resolution up to 30 days

Smith and Fiddes:

red immediate
purple black soon after
green days 4 -5
yellow days 7 - 10
resolution days 14 - 15

N.E.I Langlois and G.A. Gresham:

found out that the only significant color is yellow. They did a study in which 369 Photographs were taken. The results of this study is that the earliest time where the yellow color is appearing, is 18 hours after the impact. Any other color could be found before and after this time. This means that if there is yellow on a bruise it is older than 18 hours. This 18 hours "cut off" the yellow can appear are much earlier than the tables above shows.

A recent paper of Paliwal and Basant Lal shows that the healing of a bruise can take much more than the usual described 13 to 15 days.

Therefore decided to do an example on myself. I went into Charly Bühlers Boxing club and told him to give me the most brute boxer. After a few seconds I was standing in the ring with the three time Algerian championship winning boxer...... well maybe this example was a little involuntary.

The results you can see here