First Aid: How To Stop Bleeding


The most common and practical First Aid skill to know is ‘how to stop bleeding‘.

Bleeding usually looks worse than it really is. Having said that though, when a large blood vessel is cut or torn, the person can lose a lot of blood within minutes.

Here’s how to stop the bleeding:

You can stop most bleeding with pressure.

Call 911 if…

There is a lot of bleeding
You cannot stop the bleeding
You see signs of shock
You suspect a head, neck, or spine injury
You are not sure what to do


How To Stop The Bleeding

Get the First Aid Kit, or having someone get it.

Put a dressing on the wound (gauze pad or other clean dressing).

Apply direct pressure on the dressing.
Use the flat part of your fingers or the palm of your hand.

If the bleeding does not stop, add more dressings on top of the first and press harder.

Keep pressure on the wound until it stops bleeding.

If you can’t keep pressure on the wound, wrap a bandage firmly over the dressing to hold the dressing in place.

Also very important – do not lift the dressing to see if the bleeding has stopped. This will tear the clotting and start the process over again. Just add on more dressings over the bloody dressing and continue pressure. Leave all dressings on as you add more.

A dressing can be a gauze pad or pads, or any other clean piece of cloth. If you don’t have a dressing, you can use a gloved hand.

If the cut or scrape is minor, wash the area with lots of clean water to get the wound clean before applying the dressings.

Small wounds heal better and with less infection if an antibiotic ointment is used.

A few other popular additions to first aid kits to help stop bleeding are,
The Emergency Bandage (Israeli Bandage)
Gauze Pad


    1. Yep…Good call,

      I’ve been using fine-ground pepper for small cuts and abrasions for year, the stuff is marvelous. I’m not sure that it would be prudent to apply that to anything deep or overly wide but for the small stuff it works splendidly. Just a few months ago I had a ‘busted chin’ having been using one of the newer (and POWERFUL!) DeWalt drills and as it snagged in the 1/2″ steel I was drilling (I was in a BAD position, yes…my “BAD” as it were) the handle swung up and hit me hard enough – just under the chin! – that I went DOWN…and out as well. Long story short, the ‘split’ was roughly 2″ long…though not deep and a handful of pepper stopped the bleeding within a matter of only 8-9 minutes…and that from a cut that was bleeding profusely; typical scalp/facial bleeding, you know the type I presume.

      My understanding of it is this: there is a close chemical analogue of ‘fibrinogen’…ie, clotting factor, contained in the pepper, that acts to initiate and then rapidly accelerate the formation of the fibrous ‘clot mat’ of which all scabs are formed. As an aside, pepper is highly antibacterial…we know this as it was the original preservative for meat being transported any distance in ancient China…at a time when salt was worth more than Gold it was then the sole and only practical method of dry preservation, long term.

      Oh, incidentally, that 2″ cut?…almost no scar left to speak of now. Again, Kudo’s to jayjay!

      1. My enlightening moment came when almost slicing the end of my thumb using a mandolin slicer without the protective guard.
        I had cayenne in my husband’s bathroom for small shaving cuts and thought, why not?/
        It stopped the blood filling the sink instantly. However, it was so deep, there is a scar.

        Another great source is toothpaste for burns and insect stings. I used it for both and it stopped the pain instantly. Nice to know when the grand kids are near; you always know where it is and it is easily accessible.

        1. Toothpaste is a grease and traps the heat in the burn and increases the damage. It feels better because the paste seals out the oxygen which causing the burning sensation of the now exposed nerve ending. Definitely don’t use on more serious burns. It would be difficult for a Dr. to remove. Causing more trauma to the wound. As a firefighter for 30 years and first aid instructor we would see all kinds of home remedies that actually caused more complications. Simply cool with water.

    2. This is a treasure trove of knowledge, monitor it all the time, trained in military first aid, best article you’ve posted. Keep up the good work.

  1. Can’t stress enough to have Israeli bandages in your first aid kit. These were a godsend over in Iraq and Afghanistan. They allow an injured person to self apply and with the plastic retaining clip allows pressure to be directly over the wound. Wish they sold them at Wally World but you need to order them on-line.

  2. This a direct and quick overview of what to do in the case of a bleeding emergency. I think it is also important to add that if something is lodged within a deep wound it is best to keep it in place until medical personnel can arrive. Removing superficial debris can actually make the bleeding worse and cause more harm than help. Those who worry about what to do in bleeding emergencies should consider getting certified in First Aid. This will help boost your confidence and your skills. After all, you never know when you will be faced with a medical emergency such as bleeding.

    For more on First Aid look here:

  3. If you are trying to stop a bleeding wound in addition to gauze and pressure, elevate the wound.

    Have the person sit or lie down.

    DH had a finger wound a couple years ago that took about 15 minutes to stop bleeding with constant pressure and elevation.

    Then I l cleaned and dressed it.

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