Minor cuts, like those that occur while shaving, can bleed for several minutes. To halt this bleeding, a styptic pencil — made primarily of alum — is often used. However, styptic pencils often cause an unpleasant stinging pain, or one may not be readily available for use. When this is the case there are alternatives to consider.
Frequently the most common item used to stop bleeding from small cuts is toilet paper. Tearing a small section from a piece of toilet paper and pressing it firmly to the nick is effective, but not very aesthetically appealing. Moreover, the toilet paper regularly has to be left in place for several minutes or longer to continue to prevent bleeding.
Applying a 70 percent solution of rubbing alcohol to a cotton swab and pressing this against the wound causes coagulation and denaturation of the proteins in blood, essentially forming a layer of congealed blood to prevent blood flow. Applying alcohol to a cut will also kill bacteria and may prevent infection. Although effective, this method may cause a stinging or burning pain comparable to a styptic pencil.
Small amounts of petroleum jelly applied to a cut will not only stop bleeding, but also may help heal the wound and prevent scarring. This common personal care product helps seal the wound to prevent blood loss and forms a barrier to prevent infectious substances from entering. While petroleum jelly is recognized as an effective skin protectant, it should not be used over deep puncture wounds, infections or lacerations.
Lavender Essential Oil
Lavender essential oil possesses antimicrobial and astringent properties. Being an astringent, it will contract body tissues, stopping the flow of blood, while the antimicrobial properties will help prevent infection. Lavender is generally considered safe for topical use, though it may be necessary to dilute it in a carrier oil like jojoba or grapeseed oil for those with sensitive skin. Simply apply one drop of therapeutic-grade lavender oil directly to the cut.
Aloe Vera Gel
Aloe vera is well known for its therapeutic qualities for burns. Lesser known is the fact that the gel from the cactuslike leaves of the plant has been used for thousands of years for wound healing. Like lavender it is also astringent and antimicrobial, meaning it will help prevent infection and decrease bleeding from small cuts. Apply a thin layer of Aloe vera over the cut and surrounding area to diminish bleeding.
References and ResourcesElmhurst College: Denaturation of Proteins
Mayo Clinic: Aloe (Aloe Vera)