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Needle Punctures for Health Reasons

Topic Overview

Blood draw puncture site

The puncture wound caused by a needle stick for a blood sample or to donate blood usually heals without trouble. It is not unusual to develop a bruise at the puncture site. Most puncture wounds for blood draws do not need further care.

Intravenous (IV) line puncture site

If you need intravenous fluids or medicine directly into the vein, a needle attached to an intravenous (IV) catheter is inserted into the vein. There may be a slight amount of redness and swelling at the puncture site. The vein may become irritated. This irritation is called superficial phlebitis. After a vein is irritated, it may feel hard or stiff for up to 7 days. This is not a symptom of infection. Redness and warm skin moving along the vein from the puncture site towards the trunk of the body is more serious. If you have this symptom, call your doctor. Removing the catheter when the vein becomes irritated usually relieves the symptoms. IV sites usually heal without any problems and do not need further care.

Care for a puncture site

An adhesive bandage is placed over the puncture site after the procedure.

The best way to prevent bruising is to apply firm, steady pressure on the site for 3 to 5 minutes after the catheter or needle is removed. When blood is drawn from an artery, pressure is applied for a longer period than for a needle stick. If bruising occurs at a puncture site:

  • Use a cold pack for comfort. You can use the cold pack for 10 to 15 minutes every 3 to 4 hours as desired. Be sure to place a layer of fabric between your skin and the cold pack.
  • Use warmth, such as a heating pad, after 48 hours, to help relieve the pain and promote healing.

Report your symptoms to your doctor if the symptoms have not improved after home treatment.

Related Information

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
H. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine
Last Revised June 6, 2012

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