Dealing with Bleeding

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This leaflet is created from first aid advice provided by St John Ambulance, the nation's leading first aid charity. This advice is no substitute for first aid training - find a training course near you.

  • Wash and dry your own hands.
  • Cover any cuts on your own hands and put on disposable gloves.
  • Clean the cut, if dirty, under running water. Pat dry with a sterile dressing or clean, lint-free material. If possible, raise the affected area above the heart.
  • Cover the cut temporarily while you clean the surrounding skin with soap and water and pat the surrounding skin dry. Cover the cut completely with a sterile dressing or plaster.
  • Put on disposable gloves.
  • Apply direct pressure to the wound with a pad (for example, a clean cloth) or fingers until a sterile dressing is available.
  • Raise and support the injured limb. Take particular care if you suspect a bone has been broken.
  • You may need to lay the person down to treat for shock.
  • Bandage the pad or dressing firmly to control bleeding, but not so tightly that it stops the circulation to fingers or toes. If bleeding seeps through the first bandage, cover with a second bandage. If bleeding continues to seep through the bandage, remove it and reapply.
  • Dial 999/112/911 for an ambulance or take the person to hospital.

Where possible, swab or wash small objects out of the wound with clean water.

If there is a large object embedded:

  • Leave it in place.
  • Apply firm pressure on either side of the object.
  • Raise and support the wounded limb or part.
  • Gently cover the wound and object with a sterile dressing.
  • Build up padding around the object until the padding is higher than the object, then bandage over the object without pressing on it.
  • Protect yourself from infection by wearing disposable gloves and covering any wounds on your hands.
  • If blood comes through the dressing do not remove it - bandage another over the original.
  • If blood seeps through both dressings, remove them both and replace with a fresh dressing, applying pressure over the site of bleeding.

Note: these hints are no substitute for thorough knowledge of first aid. St John Ambulance holds first aid courses throughout the country.


Adapted from the St John Ambulance leaflets: cuts and grazes and severe bleeding. Copyright for this leaflet is with St John Ambulance.

Original Author:
St John Ambulance
Current Version:
Peer Reviewer:
St John Ambulance
Document ID:
28627 (v1)
Last Checked:
Next Review:
Now read about Simple Wound Management and Suturing

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