A stab wound is a cut or specific form of penetrating trauma that results from sharp objects such as knives or glass. It is one of the most common household accidents, though some stabbings may occur due to intentional violent action.  Seeking treatment is vital if a stab wound causes excessive bleeding. While treatment options tend to vary depending on the anatomical location and severity of an individual’s injury, seeking medical attention is necessary in order to prevent further complications.

What to do

Whether mild or deep, a stab wound should be treated with clean hands to ward off the risk of infection. The first thing to do is check that the wound is clean before you stop the bleeding (if any is present). Bleeding is the escape of blood from the vessels (arteries, veins or capillaries).  In the case of deep stab wounds, bleeding may also be of mixed type given the proximity of the arteries and veins.

Capillary bleeding is less worrisome, involving the subcutaneous vessels and surface water located just below the skin, which cause the blood to come out as drips. In such cases, it is necessary to wash the wound with cold water and apply ice to it. If the injury involves a limb, it is necessary to lift it above the body in order to decrease the bleeding. Next, applying a sterile bandage to the wound, disinfecting it (verifying that there are no foreign objects in it) and finally wrapping it up is a must.

In case of venous bleeding, blood is presented as a much dark shade and flows in a slow and steady pace. It is advisable to clean the wound with sterile gauze, disinfect it and then dab it dry with a clean handkerchief. It can also be useful to wrap it with a bandage, though it is important that it is not wrapped around too tightly. If the wound regards a limb, it is advisable to raise it above the body in order to decrease the bleeding.

In case of arterial bleeding,  blood is presented as a bright red color and comes out in streams in synchrony with the heartbeat.In such instances, it is important to act quickly. If bleeding is still light, it is necessary to clean the wound, disinfect it and then wrap it with a sterile gauze or a clean handkerchief. If large blood vessels are involved and bleeding is excessive, it is vital to call for help immediately. In the meantime, making compressions on the arteries where the blood came out is necessary to prevent further complications.

What not to do

A few instructions on what not to do in cases involving a stab wound include the following:

  • Don’t use a tourniquet (or belts, ties or the like), in an attempt to stop the bleeding (this method should be used only in exceptionally necessary situations and with extreme caution; for example, an accidental amputation or Crush syndrome)
  • If there is a foreign object in the wound that is not visible, avoid trying to get it out (this can lead to the object being pushed in deeper)


Disclaimer: The information in this article does not in any way replace the intervention or signs associated with this type of emergency, but rather only provides simple tips as how to keep the situation under control while waiting for a medical rescue team to arrive.