Bruises and Hepatitis C
Last updated: March 2020
Some of the side effects of Hepatitis C cannot be seen from the outside. Bruising is a symptom that might be a clue that your body is fighting hepatitis C. Bruising is related to your platelet count. When you begin to have the symptom of bruising easily, your liver has already taken a hard hit. It is caused when your liver is not able to filter blood. Your liver is like an oil filter and when it is damaged, it becomes clogged. This causes your blood to move back up toward your spleen.
The spleen swells and tries to hold the larger amount of blood. As it gets larger, the amount of platelets that it can hold doesn’t change. It just dilutes the amount that is in your bloodstream. My doctor explained it that my spleen was a platelet hoarder. That leaves less platelets to go through your blood stream.
Platelets are what help your blood to clot. By having less of them in your blood stream, you are more likely to bruise easily when you have a low platelet count. A normal count is 150,000 to 400,000. Don’t get too scared if yours are lower. It is typical to have numbers as low as 60,000 with advanced liver disease. I lived like that for years and have some great tips to help with bruising.
Be sure and ask your doctor before beginning any treatment for bruising. I worked closely with my doctor, nurse, and transplant team to reduce bruising. I used a medication for a while and your doctor may prescribe it for you if necessary. This was especially true for me while on treatment. The newer treatments have much less side effects and are not as hard on your platelet levels!
Tips for Bruising:
- Elevate the area as quick as you can. Keeping the wounded area above your heart can prevent the bruise from getting bigger.
- Use an ice bag or a bag of frozen veggies on the bruised area to reduce swelling and keep the blood from spreading under your skin.
- Vitamin K can be used in a dose that is considered safe by your doctor. It will not fix your platelet count, but can help counteract it.
- Crushed Vitamin K can be mixed with Arnica Montana gel. This paste can then be put on a severe bruise to reduce the healing time. You can mix up a small amount and keep it in a small jar. I used a contact lens case and carried it to work with me.
- Remember that bruising can also occur inside your body. If you are getting large bruises on your skin, talk to your doctor. My doctor cautioned me about activities such as skiing, cycling, and other things, like jumping on a trampoline. Use caution when moving about quickly so that you don’t bump your head or any other part of your body.
If you have advanced liver disease from Hepatitis C, bruising may be a part of your life. With caution and care, you can prevent bruises, keep them from being painful and help them heal faster.