Could your medications be the cause of excessive bruising? –– Mika Bradford

Excessive Bruising

Could your medications be the cause?

By Mika Bradford CN, CPhT, North Dallas LIVING WELL Magazine

A decline in naturally occurring hormones, thinning hair and an increase in bodyweight are just a few of the changes that many people experience with age. Many adults also associate an increase in bruising as one of those changes and while age can impact the elasticity and thickness of skin, common over-the-counter products and medications can also contribute to skin related injuries.

If you have unexplained bruises or not so attractive red and purple splotchy areas of discoloration that seem to spontaneously appear, you may be experiencing symptoms from more than the passing of father time. While many times these bruises can be associated with a recent run-in with the kitchen counter or the corner of a coffee table, the effects of these common encounters can be the sign of an adverse reaction to a medication or interaction of medications and over-the-counter products. The dose or amount of medication taken––as well as the combining of products––can directly impact your body’s response to the most basic of injuries. Excessive bruising, bleeding or the inability to stop bleeding in a reasonable period of time are symptoms that warrant having your entire list of over-the-counter products, prescription medications and dietary supplements reviewed by a qualified health care provider.

Doctors are often familiar with the function or positive attributes of the medication they are prescribing; however, they may not be as familiar with drug-to-drug or drug-to-dietary supplement interactions and for this reason it is suggested that you have all your medications and supplements reviewed by your pharmacist.

Prescription Medications

Plavix / Clopidogrel / Lovenox / Enoxaparin/

Heparin / Coumadin / Warfarin

These drugs are members of the drug class known as platelet aggregation inhibitors. Platelet aggregation inhibitors are used to reduce the risk of blood clot formation that can lead to strokes and heart attacks by preventing platelets from sticking together. While they all accomplish the same objective, they do so through a variety of different pathways.

Plavix or its generic counterpart Clopidogrel is used for reducing the risk of heart attack, stroke or death in patients who have already had a cardiac event or experience circulatory issues on a regular basis. This medication may also be prescribed if you have a narrowing or hardening of the arteries. Plavix is taken daily in tablet form. Lovenox or its generic equivalent Enoxaparin is an anticoagulant used in patients who have specific health conditions and for people who will be having surgery or those who are immobile as a result of major surgery or require bed rest. It has also been used in the treatment of blood clots and is an injectable medication. Heparin is similar to the drug Lovenox; however, due to its larger molecule size, it is metabolized at a slower rate, resulting in a longer period of time for it to be cleared from the body. Heparin also reduces the blood’s ability to clot and is frequently used during surgical procedures or during periods of hospitalization in an effort to reduce clots forming in the arteries, vein, lungs and heart. It too is administered as an injection. Of all the anticoagulant medications we have discussed, our final drug may be the one you are most familiar with. Coumadin and its generic partner Warfarin may be the most commonly recognizable medications of the group. These drugs also reduce blood clot formation by blocking clotting factors from forming in the blood and are used to prevent strokes, heart attacks and blood clot formation in the lungs, arteries and veins and are taken as a tablet.


NSAIDS / Ibuprofen / Aspirin / Naproxen

Vitamin E / Fish Oils

NSAIDS is the abbreviation for nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories, which is a class of drugs that are used to reduce inflammation and pain. These drugs are not related to steroids and work by reducing the body’s production of prostaglandins. Prostaglandins are chemicals produced by the body that promote inflammation. Examples of common NSAIDS that can be purchased without a prescription are aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen. In addition to these pain relievers, common dietary supplements like fish oils and vitamin E can also impact the blood’s clotting ability when taken with platelet aggregation inhibiting medications. It’s important to remember that even if a product is sold without a prescription or is “natural” it does not mean that it is neutral in its ability to impact your health.

Mika Bradford is a certified nutritionist and pharmacy technician. Mika has spent over a decade working in the manufacturing, retail and the clinical application of nutritional supplements. She has worked closely with clients facing a wide range of health issues, including those with special needs and long-term health conditions. If you have questions for Mika, you may contact her at or 817-705-7221.