Bilirubin may form 7 to 10 days after an injury, causing a bruise to appear yellow.
Bruising occurs when the small, thin blood vessels under the skin break, usually the result of getting bumped, and cause small amounts of bleeding.
In this article, we take a look at the causes of yellow bruises on the breast, along with treatment options and whether people should see a doctor.
A yellow bruise on the breast signals that there was an injury or trauma to the breast tissue about a week to a week and a half ago.
Bumping into a wall or open cabinet door or a minor sports injury may be enough to cause a bruise. More severe traumas, such as being in a car accident or suffering a fall, can also cause bruising.
Some people bruise more easily than others, and what may cause an unsightly bruise in one person may barely leave a mark in another. People that are older or have fair skin tend to bruise more easily.
Breast-feeding can sometimes cause bruising, especially if the baby or toddler grabs or squeezes the breast tissue while nursing. Pumping can occasionally cause bruising around the nipple if the flange, or the part that attaches to the breast, is the incorrect size.
A woman who has bruising associated with breastfeeding should consider speaking with a lactation specialist to be fitted with the correct size flange or ensure that the baby's latch is correct.
Bruising is also common after breast surgery. Cutting into the breast tissue, such as with plastic surgery or the removal of a breast lump, can cause bleeding. Even smaller procedures, such as a breast biopsy, can lead to bruising during the recovery process.
The doctor or surgeon should be able to provide guidance on what to expect regarding bruising in the time after surgery.
Bruises follow a typical color pattern as they heal after the initial injury.
|Color||Timeframe after injury||Cause|
|Red||0-2 days||Hemoglobin in the blood contains substances,
such as oxygen and iron.
|Blue or purple||2-5 days||Hemoglobin in the blood starts to breakdown.
This causes the oxygen and iron to dissolve.
|Green||5-7 days||Hemoglobin breakdown produces biliverdin,
a green substance that causes the green color of an aging bruise.
|Yellow||7-10 days||Billiverdin starts to break down and form bilirubin,
which is yellow.
When to call the doctor
In most cases, bruising of the breast can be treated or managed at home. However, a person who gets large bruises frequently, or is unable to recall the injury that caused the bruising should talk to a doctor.
A healthcare professional should be consulted if a lump forms over the bruise, the bruise lasts longer than 2 weeks, or there are signs of infection.
It is also a good idea to call the doctor if:
- a large lump forms over the bruise
- the bruise does not go away within 2 weeks
- there is a lot of bruising elsewhere on the body
- there is frequent bleeding from the nose or gums
- there is blood in the urine or stool
- there are signs of infection around the bruise, such as redness or drainage of fluid or pus
- there is a family history of easy bruising or excessive bleeding
These signs can signal the presence of a blood-clotting disorder or another serious complication. People who experience any of these symptoms should see a doctor as soon as possible to rule out more dangerous conditions.
Treating bruises at home
Ordinary bruises are very simple to manage at home.
Bruising on the breast can be treated with a simple ice pack. Wrap the ice in a towel or cloth first and leave on the bruise for about 10 minutes. Repeat the process as necessary for a few days after the bruise first appears.
Acetaminophen or ibuprofen can relieve pain and swelling. People with bruises should avoid aspirin as it can make bruising worse.
Other skin changes of the breast
Bruising is not the only skin change that can occur in the breast tissue. Some skin changes are minor while others can signal a more serious condition.
This type of infection occurs more frequently on the skin underneath the breast of larger chested women. Moisture can collect under the breast and cause redness and itching.
A fungal infection can usually be treated by keeping the area clean and dry and using an over-the-counter fungal cream or spray powder.
Contact dermatitis is an allergic reaction, usually due to the breast tissue coming into contact with an allergen. Common allergens include soaps, lotions, perfumes, creams, and laundry detergent.
Treating contact dermatitis involves identifying and removing the allergen. Identifying the correct substance, however, may require a bit of trial and error.
Cellulitis is a bacterial infection of the skin and the underlying tissue. An abscess, or mass, can sometimes form, which is a deeper infection. Cellulitis causes redness, swelling, pain and a feeling of warmth of the infected tissues.
Cellulitis requires antibiotics to treat the infection. People who experience symptoms of cellulitis or an infection should see their doctor as soon as possible. At times, a deeper infection or abscess will need to be drained by a doctor.
An infection of the breast tissue in a breastfeeding mother may be mastitis.
Mastitis is an infection of the breast tissue and most commonly occurs in a breastfeeding mother. It causes the breast to become very swollen, red, and painful. In many cases, a woman will also develop a fever.
Women who develop mastitis should see a doctor for immediate evaluation. Antibiotics are often needed to treat the infection.
- yellowish or bloody nipple discharge
- flaking or crusting of the skin on or around the nipple
- itching or tingling of the nipple or areola
- a change in the appearance of the nipple
Paget's disease is rare, and the symptoms often mimic eczema, and sometimes the disease is misdiagnosed.
Inflammatory breast cancer
Inflammatory breast cancer is a very rare and aggressive form of breast cancer that causes a blockage of the lymph vessels in the breast, giving it a swollen, red, and inflamed appearance.
In some cases, the skin can take on the pitted appearance of an orange peel, a condition known as peau d'orange. This type of cancer does not always cause a solid tumor or lump within the breast.
As always, people that notice any changes to the breast tissue should talk to their doctor.
Most people can treat and manage simple bruising at home, but if individuals have any concerns about excessive bruising or bleeding, they should see a doctor.
In most cases, however, bruising is a common issue and nothing to be concerned about.