How to Stop Bleeding if You Take Blood Thinners

Blood thinners save lives. But they also come with side effects, like bleeding. Accidents happen, but it’s important to get your bleeding under control. Here’s what you need to know.

Bleeding Gums

Press firmly on the part of your gums that’s bleeding with a damp washcloth or tea bag. Do this for 30 minutes. For the next 24 hours, do not:

  • Drink hot beverages
  • Use a straw
  • Spit
  • Rinse
  • Smoke

Avoid hard foods like pretzels and nuts for 2 to 3 days. Call your dentist or doctor if the bleeding doesn’t stop after 1-2 hours.

To lower your risk of bleeding gums:

  • Don’t use toothpicks
  • Use a toothbrush with soft bristles
  • Use waxed floss
  • Take dentures or retainers out at night to rest your mouth

Nosebleeds

Squeeze your nostrils together with your fingers below the bone. Hold it for 5 minutes straight, no breaks. If that doesn’t work, try a decongestant nose spray. You can buy it at your local pharmacy. Follow these steps:

  • Put two squirts in the bleeding nostril
  • Squeeze your nostrils together for 15 minutes
  • Do it again if you’re still bleeding
  • Go to the emergency room right away if it doesn’t stop after three tries

Small Wounds

If you cut yourself a little with a razor or kitchen knife, you probably won’t need medical attention. To stop the bleeding:

  • Put a clean towel or bandage on the wound
  • Press on it firmly until the bleeding stops

You’ll need to clean the wound once the bleeding stops. Saline solution is a safe option and cleans most cuts. You’ll need something stronger if it’s really dirty. You can buy a wound cleanser at your local pharmacy. It’ll help get the bacteria and dirt out. Iodine works, too. You may also need a special bandage or wound dressing. If you’re not sure what to buy, ask the pharmacist.

To lower your risk of small wounds:

  • Wear a bike helmet and other types of safety gear when needed
  • Wear protective gloves when working with tools of all kinds
  • Be careful when trimming hair or nails
  • Don’t wear sandals or other open-toe shoes to avoid cuts on your feet

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Large Wounds

Don’t try to clean it. This may make it bleed more. To stop the bleeding:

  • Put a clean towel, cloth, or bandage on the wound
  • Press on it firmly until the bleeding stops (don’t press on something stuck in your skin)
  • Keep it in place with medical tape or your hands.
  • Raise the injury above your heart if you can

If blood leaks through, just add another towel, cloth, or bandage. Keep pressing on it.

Make a tourniquet only if you know how and your injury is life-threatening. Follow these tips:

  • Try to stay calm
  • Lie down under a blanket to stay warm
  • Stay as still as possible

Call 911 or go the emergency room right away if:

  • Bleeding doesn’t stop
  • The wound is very deep or dirty
  • You have numbness or pain
  • You have redness, pus, or swelling
  • Your temperature is above 101 degrees
  • The wound has a bad smell
WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Neha Pathak, MD on February 04, 2021

Sources

SOURCES:

National Blood Clot Alliance: “Living Your Best Life While Taking Blood Thinners.”

Michigan Medicine: “Taking Care of a Cut: For People Taking Blood Thinners.”

The American College of Surgeons Division of Education: “Surgical Patient Education Program.”

Mayo Clinic: “Severe bleeding: First Aid.”

Tyco Healthcare: “Wound Cleansing.”

The American Academy of Oral Medicine: “Blood Thinners and Dental Care.”

Agency for HealthCare Research and Quality: “Blood Thinner Pills: Your Guide to Using Them Safely.”

University Hospitals Harrington Hearth & Vascular Institute: “How to Prevent Bleed While Taking Blood Thinners.”

University of Utah Health: “ER or Not: Nosebleed.”

Cleveland Clinic: “Bleeding.”

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