How to Manage Bleeding With cITP

Medically Reviewed by Carol DerSarkissian, MD on December 06, 2021
2 min read

Platelets are blood cells that stick together to make your blood clot. That stops bleeding. But if you have chronic immune thrombocytopenia (cITP), your blood doesn't clot like it should because you don't have enough platelets in your blood.

Sometimes people with cITP don't have symptoms. But usually when you have chronic ITP, you might have:

  • Easy, hard-to-explain bruising
  • Pinpoint-size, reddish-purple dots, usually on your lower legs
  • Cuts that heal slowly and ooze blood
  • Bleeding from the gums or nose
  • Heavy period flow
  • Blood in your urine or stool

Having cITP doesn't mean you can't be active. Still, there are few things you should do to avoid bleeding.

When it comes to physical activities:

  • Try to avoid ones that can cause serious injuries.  Skip contact sports like tackle football, boxing, and martial arts. Skiing and horseback riding are risky, too. Instead, stick to safer activities like walking, swimming, and biking.
  • Wear protective items when you can. Things like helmets and knee, elbow, and wrist pads can do the trick.
  • Be careful when you prepare food, especially when you use knives.
  • Use safety gloves when you work with power tools.
  • Always wear seatbelts.
  • If your child has ITP, look for play areas with soft surfaces.

When you need to take medicine, stay away from any herbal, over-the-counter, or prescription medicines that can affect how platelets work. Some examples are:

  • Aspirin
  • Coumadin
  • Ibuprofen
  • Naproxen

Talk to your doctor to learn more.

If you have pain or a fever, use acetaminophen.

Your gums can bleed. So when you care for your teeth, make sure to:

  • Use a soft toothbrush.
  • Visit your dentist regularly to check your gums and look for bleeding.
  • Ask your dentist and doctor if it's OK to floss.

Shaving can cause bleeding, too. When you do it, use an electric shaver instead of a razor.

If you have a minor cut or wound, take these steps to stop the bleeding:

  1. Wash your hands to avoid spreading germs to the wound.
  2. Apply gentle, direct pressure on the cut or wound with a clean bandage, cloth, or piece of gauze until bleeding stops.
  3. Clean the wound with water and mild soap. Rinse well. Don't use hydrogen peroxide or iodine. They can damage tissue.
  4. Apply an antibiotic cream to help keep infection away.
  5. Cover it with a sterile bandage to keep your wound clean.

You may also want to ask your doctor about having medicine nearby to control bleeding. There are some that might be good to take before or after dental visits. It might also be smart to have a nosebleed treatment at arm’s reach.

Get on the phone if:

  • Bleeding doesn't stop with simple first aid care.
  • You have long periods of unusual bleeding that you haven't had before.
  • You’ve been in a serious accident or have hit your head. 
  • You have any serious bruising or bleeding.