Better Than Band-Aids



REMEMBER STYPTIC PENCILS, those little white sticks that were once standard items in shaving kits? They are still around, but today a myriad of products compete for the hemostatic, anti-hemorrhagic, blood-stopping market.

“BloodSTOP,” marketed by both LifeScience and Curad, looks like a typical gauze pad but is made of cellulose from plants, which initiates blood coagulation and creates a protective layer over the wound. BloodSTOP is a good option for scrapes and abrasions, especially when they are of a size or shape difficult to bandage. For someone who gets nosebleeds, keeping these on hand can be very helpful. (Styptics, which would not be great in these cases, contain astringents, usually “alum,” which causes blood vessels to contract – and which is why they can sting when applied.)

BloodSTOP pads can be removed after bleeding stops, although for larger wounds they can be kept in place using bandaging tape, but must be replaced every day. The key to removing BloodSTOP without reopening the wound is using water to wash the bandage away, even for nosebleeds.

For smaller cuts, an Israeli product, for which the name is translated as “20 Bandaids with Blood-Clotting Agent”– looks like a bandaid and contains a blood clotting agent, obviating the need for extra tape to hold the blood-clotting material against the wound. On Amazon, a package of 20 costs $7.99 versus 10 BloodSTOPS by LifeScience at $13.34, and 10 by Curad for $9.49 (although they are the same product).

Before applying any blood-stopper, wounds must be cleaned well to make sure they’re not closed with dirt or bacteria inside. This is especially true for hemostatic powders such as WoundSeal and BleedArrest, which can be poured onto deep wounds to stop the bleeding until you get to a doctor. (These are not okay for nosebleeds because they might be inhaled.)

When a questioner on Amazon asked, “Would this [powder] work in a stab or gunshot wound?” the answer was to choose the QuickClot Trauma Pak: a pouch of zeolite beads that can be held against the wound until medical help arrives.

But the best first measure to deal with bleeding should always be direct pressure – along with pressure on pulse points if you have learned where they’re located in the arms and legs.

Medical professionals warn that hemostatic products do nothing to repair wounds: any wound bleeding so badly as to need a hemostatic agent should be seen ASAP in a medical setting. But they concede that if the bleeding cannot be stopped by pressure, hemostatic products can be helpful until a medical professional can take over.

Treating wounds can be complicated by the use of products that contain granules or powder, which are difficult to clean from the wound later. Removing pads also risks removing the clots, which causes bleeding to start all over again.

So we’re back to nosebleeds and scrapes: if you’re prone to these, keeping a supply of BloodSTOPs around might be a good idea — but then you might want the Israeli bandaids, too.

–Mary Carpenter

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