If emergency treatment is not needed, bleeding can usually
be stopped by applying steady, direct pressure and elevating the wound. The
following steps will protect the skin wound and protect you from exposure to
another person's blood.
Before you try to stop the bleeding
Wash your hands well with soap and water, if
Put on medical gloves, if available, before applying
direct pressure to the wound. If gloves are not available, use many layers of
clean cloth, plastic bags, or the cleanest material available between your
hands and the wound.
Have the injured person hold direct pressure
on the wound, if possible, and elevate the injured area.
bare hands to apply direct pressure only as a last resort.
Stop the bleeding
Have the injured person lie down and elevate
the site that is bleeding.
Remove any visible objects in the wound
that are easy to remove. Control the bleeding before trying to clean the
Remove or cut clothing from around the wound. Remove any
jewelry from the general area of the wound so if the area swells, the jewelry
will not affect blood flow.
Apply steady, direct pressure and elevate the area for a
full 15 minutes. Use a clock—15 minutes can seem like a long time. Resist the
urge to peek after a few minutes to see whether bleeding has stopped. If blood
soaks through the cloth, apply another one without lifting the first. If there
is an object in the wound, apply pressure around the object, not directly over
If moderate to severe bleeding has not slowed or stopped, continue direct pressure while getting help. Do not use a tourniquet to stop the bleeding. Do all you can to keep the wound
clean and avoid further injury to the area.
Mild bleeding usually stops on its own or slows to an ooze or trickle after 15 minutes of pressure. It may ooze or trickle for up to 45 minutes.
Occasionally a puncture wound causes bleeding underneath
the skin, but only a small amount of blood comes out of the wound. When this
happens, the area around the puncture wound may become swollen and bruised. If
the bleeding causes blood to collect in the wound site (wound hematoma), the
risk of an infection increases.
While following the steps to stop the bleeding, watch
for signs of shock in the injured person, including:
Passing out (losing consciousness).
Feeling very dizzy
or lightheaded, like the person may pass out.
Feeling very weak or
having trouble standing up.
Being less alert. The person may
suddenly be unable to respond to questions, or he or she may be confused,
restless, or fearful.
For more information, see the topic Shock.
Primary Medical Reviewer
William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.