One of the common causes of steroid bruising and skin tears is using an inhaled puffer for COPD, like Symbicort, Spiriva, Advair and the newer ones like Breo, Trelegy or Anoro also contain prednisone.  All inhalers contain a steroid to help open and relax your lungs. When we inhale too much or inhale improperly, the likely result is steroid bruising. The cause is actually in the broken blood vessels due to a thinning of the cells under the skin. Skin can easily bruise and our skin becomes more susceptible to tearing.

The same steroids that aid in helping us breathe easier have these unwanted side effects. Daily steroid use is widely accepted by most of us and most people would no more give them up then they would give up breathing. If you get steroid bruising have a frank talk to your doctor and ask to have a specialist show you how to take daily puffer properly.

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Aging, Prednisone & Blood Thinners

Problems arise because as we age and we all do, our skin naturally gets thinner and this increased fragility can cause the skin that is weaker and more prone to bruising followed by skin ripping.

However, if you have COPD and are prescribed inhalers twice a day, the included steroids contained in the puffer will cause your skin to become ever thinner causing an increase in the bruising and tearing and ripping of your skin.

If you are one of the unlucky ones who also need to be on blood thinners, your problems with be exacerbated.  We all have experience this as we are released from hospital after having a dose of blood thinners. Our bruised and battered arms are our badge of honour. Often we hear about arm and hand bruising but some will also suffer from leg bruising called tattoo bruising.



Causes of Bruising/Tearing

Just one small bump and you are toast. Before you even feel it the bruising begins and sometimes lead to a tear of the skin.  Door jams, cupboards or any hard surface are the culprits more times that not.

Often the bruising shows up in the morning for no clear reason.

A few times I have also felt it happening. It felt like a string was being pulled from inside my arm and I could feel the trajectory of the bruising as it was happening. That was a very odd feeling.


Caring for Bruising/Tearing

Talk to your doctor or care specialist and ask for a brochure on cleaning the skin tear area and how to care for steroid bruising. Keep the brochure on hand in your first aid kit for when you need it.

Bruising in itself doesn’t need any care but if you have a skin tear it will need you to be vigilant.  Clean the area with alcohol or a approved antiseptic soap and dry wound thoroughly. Don’t rub the skin, rather pat it dry, try coaxing the skin back over the opening. Using a Tegaderm transparent film, cover the wound and surrounding area. This band-aid is clear or transparent and will stay on until you take it off.

Be careful when you remove the tape.  Pull it gently in the direction of the wound and not against it. The last thing you want to do it re-open the wound after it has begun to heal.




Remedies to Bruising

Staying covered somewhat helps to keep bruising at bay when working or working out.

  • wear socks
  • long pants
  • long sleeve shirts
  • gloves

If you find that you get a lot of bruising during sleeping use sleeve skins to protect arms.

Ask your care provider from proper information on taking inhalers and for caring for bruising and skin tearing



Winter and dry air causes the problem to be worse.

Moisturizing is one of the things that people talk about to aid in the prevention of bruising. Using a quality lotion like Nivea Q10 is one lotion that  over and over to help prevent dry skin. Another ointment that often works to suppress the bruising once it has appeared called Arnica Gel.

Stay as hydrated as possible. Water thins mucus as well as keeps us hydrated and for most of us with COPD, being required to drink on average of 8 to 10 glasses of water per day.

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