Hemophilia is a disorder of the blood. Those who have this condition either do not have or have low levels of clotting factors in their blood. Clotting factors are proteins found within the blood that, together with platelets (small blood cells), help blood clot. Clotting (also referred to as “coagulation”) is crucial, as it prevents excessive blood loss. When a blood vessel becomes injured, clotting factors and platelets immediately start working together to form a clot at the site of the injured blood vessel, thereby stopping the flow of blood.
In people who have hemophilia, however, clotting is slowed, as they lack or do not have a sufficient amount of clotting factors.
Hemophilia is a genetic condition; typically, it’s inherited, but it can also develop after birth, though this is rare. There is no cure for hemophilia; it is a chronic, serious condition, but with proper treatment, it can be managed.
1. Severe, unexplained bruising.
A bruise occurs when capillaries, small blood vessels, underneath the skin become injured and burst. The blood released by the damaged capillaries becomes trapped underneath the surface of the skin, which causes a blackish, blue mark to appear (hence why bruises are often called ‘black and blues’).
Bruises are common and anyone can develop them at any age; however, in people who have hemophilia, bruises can occur much more frequently, and they can be much more intense than they would be in individuals who have the appropriate amount of clotting factors in their blood. For example, an injury that would only cause a minor bruise in a non-hemophiliac may cause an extensive bruise in a hemophiliac.
Additionally, hemophiliacs can develop bruises as a result of things that would not normally cause bruises; pants rubbing against the hips or carrying a bag across a shoulder, for example.