Many people feel anxiety about donating blood. They may be worried about the pain or nervous about the possibility of feeling light-headed or even fainting. Despite this, blood donations are an increasingly common part of modern medicine. Blood donation centers can be found everywhere, and it is likely you will someday be met with an opportunity to donate. If you have already donated blood, you may have been one of many to find an unwelcome surprise on your arms later on in the form of bruises. You’ve probably stopped to ask yourself, “Is bruising after blood donation normal?”
Fortunately, though it may not be pleasant, bruising is an entirely normal issue in the field of phlebotomy. While not everyone will experience bruising every time they donate blood, if you are donating blood on a regular basis, it will almost certainly happen to you at some point. In this article, you can find out more about what causes bruising and how it can be prevented.
What causes bruising after blood donation?
The human body is host to about 100,000 miles of blood vessels. Bruising occurs when blood leaks from one of those blood vessels and pools under the skin. People have varying degrees of susceptibility to bruising. Some can suffer significant injuries with limited bruising, but others find themselves covered with bruises from seemingly minor accidents.
During a blood donation, the phlebotomist will insert a needle into a blood vessel to draw blood out of the body. In the course of this process, blood may spill from the blood vessel. It is also possible that another minor vein or capillary will be damaged in the process of donating blood. It is difficult for even the most skilled phlebotomist to avoid hitting all veins and capillaries during this process.
Even if bruising does not occur during the blood donation process, it is important for donors and phlebotomists alike to practice proper aftercare. After donating, donors should apply pressure to the donation site to prevent blood from leaking out under the skin. They should also avoid lifting heavy objects for the remainder of the day, as this can cause additional bruising.
What can be one to avoid bruising?
Although bruising is common, donors can take action to avoid bruising. If you are planning a blood donation, avoid wearing tight clothes, as this can create unnecessary compression on the veins. A skilled phlebotomist will also be able to offer advice that can help minimize bruising. Throughout the donation process, it is important to follow any instructions your phlebotomist gives you, as this can help ensure a painless donation and decrease your chance of bruising. Fortunately, the science and technology associated with phlebotomy are always improving. Hospitals have even recently begun to introduce a new needle designed to decrease the pain associated with blood draws. Knowing this, you should be able to walk into your blood donation with confidence.
After your donation is complete, you should be careful with the arm that was used for a donation. Although you might not be feeling any pain, your body still has to work to heal itself following blood donation. After you have donated blood, a small clot will begin to form over the puncture in the blood vessel used for donation. This may sound alarming, but it is completely normal. However, agitating or exercising the donation site may dislodge the clot and cause blood to leak out into the arm. For this reason, it is a good idea to avoid choosing a donation site in your dominant arm. If you have the opportunity, you should sit and relax for a few minutes after your donation. The healing process begins immediately after the donation has ended, and it is in your best interest to allow this process to occur unimpeded.
What should I do if bruising occurs?
In most instances, bruising does not require special treatment. You can simply use a cold compress or ice pack on the bruising site to minimize pain. Donors should always consult a doctor before taking any pain medication. It is usually inadvisable to take ibuprofen or aspirin for at least 24 hours after donation, as these medications can interfere with the clotting process.
In some severe cases, it may be necessary to consult a doctor. If you experience severe pain, pain that does not diminish, numbness, swelling, or inflammation, you should seek medical treatment immediately. This is extremely rare, and most people will find that their post blood donation symptoms will be limited to some soreness, bruising, and stiffness around the donation site. You may find the bruising seems to grow in area before it disappears. This is also completely normal and is a sign that the blood is no longer concentrated around the donation site.
Interested in learning more about blood drawing?
If you would like to learn more about blood donation and phlebotomy, PhlebotomyU is here to help! Contact us today to take the first steps towards a fulfilling career as a phlebotomist. We have all the resources you need to make your dream a reality.