Types of Bleeding and How to Treat Them

Blood loss from capillary bleeding from fingers

Whether you’re a medical professional or a bystander, it’s important to know what to do in the event of major blood loss. Accidents happen and rapid treatment is key. If you’re equipped with knowledge of first aid and an understanding of the different types of bleeding, you’ll be better poised to intervene and help save the victim.

What are the 3 types of bleeding?

You probably know that there are different blood types, but did you know that there are also multiple types of bleeding? There are 3 main types: arterial bleeding, venous bleeding, and capillary bleeding

Each type has its own causes, treatments, and considerations. In order to treat bleeding, it’s essential to know which type you’re dealing with in order to provide the best possible care. 

No matter the type of bleeding, direct pressure and swift treatment is imperative. While many cases of external bleeding are minor, deep wounds to the arteries or veins can quickly become a serious problem. When a patient loses over 14% of their blood volume, they start to show physical symptoms like nausea or fatigue. Drastic blood loss, over 40% of blood volume loss, can cause shock, organ failure, and even death.

1. Arterial Bleeding

As the name implies, arterial bleeding has to do with the arteries. If an artery is injured, it can result in very severe bleeding. Arteries contain oxygenated blood and have high blood pressure, and so the blood from arterial bleeding is categorized by spurts of bright red blood. Blood volume tends to be lost quickly during this type of bleeding, so immediate medical care is necessary.

Due to the nature of arterial bleeding, it can be difficult to control and treat. Do your best to manage the bleeding by applying direct pressure. You might use a thick pad or dressing, then secure it with a roller gauze.

2. Venous Bleeding

While arterial bleeding carries blood with oxygen, veins carry deoxygenated blood. As a result, venous bleeding is usually a darker red. Just like the arteries, the veins also contain a lot of blood, and so blood volume loss can be high and damage can be severe. Blood flows out in more of a steady stream because there is lower blood pressure in the veins than in the arteries.

If venous bleeding is left untreated, the patient can lose blood at a surprisingly rapid rate. To treat it, apply direct pressure and dress the wound.

3. Capillary Bleeding

The capillaries are very close to the skin’s surface, and so capillary bleeding can result from a shallow wound. Blood loss from capillary bleeding is not as rapid; the blood usually comes out in a trickle that may start fast but slows down over time. 

In general, capillary bleeding tends to be less severe than the other two types of bleeding and is easier to manage. It might even heal without intervention, but you can apply a bandage if the bleeding does not stop.

Treatment of Severe Bleeding

All three types of bleeding generally are treated by applying pressure. Whenever you are treating a patient with exposed wounds or blood loss, you should wear personal protective equipment (PPE). If blood loss has not stopped after the first round of dressing and pressure, you can apply another dressing and maintain pressure. If the bleeding is severe and unmanageable, it is always a good idea to call 911 and seek assistance.

Learn Basic First Aid with SureFire CPR

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During the course, we’ll cover key topics like muscle and bone injuries, trauma/bleeding wounds, allergic reactions, and many more. Our team of instructors is made up of front line healtcare professionals who have worked in the field treating patients as EMTs, nurses, firefighters, paramedics, and more. We combine interactive lessons, real-world stories, and hands-on practice to make our classes both educational and entertaining. You’ll leave the training with impressive knowledge, helpful skills, and newfound confidence in your abilities.

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About the author


I spent 15 years as a
firefighter and paramedic...

And too often I would arrive on the scene of someone unconscious, surrounded by a circle of people feeling helpless. Sometimes those people would even have CPR training but lacked the confidence and experience to act.

That’s why I started SureFire CPR. Our classes are practical and engaging – teaching you the crucial skills you need to know what to do and feel empowered to take action.

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Zack Zarrilli, Founder

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