Medicine for the Outdoors
Medicine for the Outdoors

Dr. Paul Auerbach is the world's leading outdoor health expert. His blog offers tips on outdoor safety and advice on how to handle wilderness emergencies.

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I had the misfortune this past week to stop some bleeding on my body from a small cut vein. Like many people, I ingest one baby aspirin a day to inhibit platelet activity in pursuit of "heart health." This has the side effect of sometimes making me bleed more from small cuts and nicks, or get a larger bruise when I bump into something. So, this time I got caught on a fence and tore some skin directly over a tiny vein (a "spider"), which bled freely. I applied pressure for a few minutes with a paper towel, but the bleeding continued. Then I applied firmer pressure for 10 minutes with a wadded gauze pad, but the bleeding continued. Finally, I applied hard pressure with the heel of my hand on top of a roll of gauze. No luck.

Ordinarily, I would sit around for 30 minutes applying pressure, but I thought this might be a great opportunity to test out a sample of a product I had been sent for evaluation. BleedArrest powder (from Hemostasis, LLC) is composed of tiny hemostatic particles that contain amylopectin, a natural clotting polymer. The sample I was given came in a small plastic bellows applicator from which one easily squeezes out the desired amount of particles.

The instructions read:

1. Tear open BleedArrest pouch and remove applicator.
2. Blot excess blood from the wound with gauze pad.
3. Apply liberal amount of BleedArrest particles to cover wound.
4. Using gauze, apply firm pressure to the wound for 5 minutes. If bleeding continues, apply more BleedArrest and repeat Step 4.
5. Wrap and secure bandage around wound to maintain pressure. Discard any unused product after opening.

BleedArrest is intended to help stop moderate to heavy bleeding. It was a good choice for my small bleeding vein. After I applied a pile of the particles and applied pressure, the bleeding stopped for the most part, but I could see that there was still a small amount of fresh blood welling up through the medical dust. I followed the instructions and reapplied another pile, and after the second 5 minutes of pressure, the bleeding stopped. It was easy to brush off the wound in the perimeter around the bleeding point, and then to cover it all with a Coverlet elasticized bandage.

Based on my experience with the product, I'm going to add it to my traveling first aid kit, particularly for outdoor excursions. BleedArrest also comes in a foam preparation, which in certain applications would be easier to use than powder.

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About the Author

Dr. Paul S. Auerbach is the world’s leading authority on wilderness medicine.