Gave blood, have bruise, problem?
April 9, 2013 12:43 PM   Subscribe

YANMD. Gave blood two weeks ago. Hurt more than usual on the stick (but not terribly). I've never had any issue at all before, but this time within a few days I had a pretty good bruise. For several days it was pretty tender. The tenderness has very very slowly reduced, but it's still a bit tender. And I have a bruise the length and half the width of my hand (purple, yellow, green). I don't think the bruise has gotten bigger since the first few days, but I don't think it's been getting smaller either and it doesn't really seem to be getting lighter, though it's hard to tell. 1. Is this a problem? 2. How long before I have a normal looking arm again? 3. Is there anything I should be doing?
posted by pdq to Health & Fitness (19 answers total)
1. Probably not.
2. Another few days.
3. Wait it out.

Sounds like you got someone who wasn't great at blood draws. It happens.
posted by xingcat at 12:45 PM on April 9, 2013 [5 favorites]

I once got a bruise from a shot that lasted a total of three weeks.

I'd wait it out, unless you have any other symptoms develop.
posted by zizzle at 12:46 PM on April 9, 2013

Yowch. You poor soul. Hemorrhoid cream is supposedly good for clearing bruises, but really I'd get this looked at. You may have an iron deficiency or something similar that is making it hard for your body to heal.
posted by Jilder at 12:47 PM on April 9, 2013

I've given gallons, and gotten bruises every time because they have a hard time sticking me. It happens because blood leaks out of the vein but not into the needle. Nothing to worry about, but I did get a huge knot once and ran back up to the blood center for them to take a look -- they totally did not mind looking. It was nothing worrisome, though. Just trapped blood. If you're worried, nothing wrong with asking them to look at it.
posted by Houstonian at 12:56 PM on April 9, 2013 [2 favorites]

I am no treehorn + bunny, but it sounds like the person doing the blood draw mildly damaged the vein and blood sort of "leaked" - at least that is how I understood it when something similar happened to me. It took quite a while to resolve (although it was smaller than yours, but then it was just for a blood draw at the doctor's so less blood was taken and I assume a smaller needle was used.) If your situation is like mine, there is nothing actually wrong; your body just needs time to clear the bruising.

I would not bother to go to the doctor absent some other symptom.
posted by Frowner at 12:56 PM on April 9, 2013 [2 favorites]

It sounds like this bruise covers much of your arm. If it's still tender and the colors are vibrant (i.e., purple and violent, not faint yellow), it's possible that your body is having trouble healing the puncture or reabsorbing the escaped blood. I'd have it looked at by a doctor or nurse, whiever is more convenient, to make sure it's healing properly and doesn't need some kind of supportive treatment.

Just to add, when I accidentally nicked a vein while giving myself a shot, I did create a long-lasting and tender bruise on my arm that went through a variety of exciting, deep colors and was tender for a long time. It was, however, only about the size of a 50ยข coin. It's the size of your bruise that makes me a little worried.
posted by Nomyte at 12:59 PM on April 9, 2013

I bruise really easily, and I used to have to get regular blood draws because of a drug I'm on.

My phlebotomist was an adorable elderly lady who had been drawing blood for a bazillion years and who always did a great job, but even still I'd occasionally bruise. (And especially if some other nurse was standing in for her, and double especially if I got a subcutaneous shot.)

She suggested lightly massaging the area to get the bruise to dissipate faster. (Did this work better than just leaving it alone? I don't know. But it gave me peace of mind knowing that she had seen it a thousand times and that it wasn't a big deal.)
posted by phunniemee at 1:03 PM on April 9, 2013

I am impossible to get blood from and bruise almost this badly nearly every time anyone has to draw from me. I've also gotten the recommendation for gentle massage of the area.
posted by whitneyarner at 1:15 PM on April 9, 2013

She suggested lightly massaging the area to get the bruise to dissipate faster.

In other "how do I get rid of a hickey" questions on AskMe, people have suggested arnica gel (I have no personal knowledge of this) and lightly combing the bruise to help get the blood to sort of move on. The important part is to ascertain if there's still some sort of leakage (sounds like no and that correlates with my own experience as a ghastly terrible bruiser even with minor blood draws and no other health problems) like if you're re-bruising, other than that yeah it can take a while but you are probably fine.
posted by jessamyn at 1:17 PM on April 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

This has happened to me, even though I normally have no bruising from blood draws. I got a humungous bruise. I did nothing and it went away after a couple weeks.
posted by Cygnet at 2:19 PM on April 9, 2013

Coming in to 2nd arnica. You can't find it everywhere, but we've found it in drugstores (chain stores like Rite-Aid) near large Latin-American populated areas. My husband and I have both used it with great success on bruises, and I've even used it on itchy spots and burns. Love the stuff. A little 2 oz jar goes a long way.
posted by Verdandi at 2:51 PM on April 9, 2013

How careful were you after donating blood? Did you use your arm at all to throw anything, pick up anything heavy, etc? That will definitely create/prolong a hematoma (that's the technical term for this type of bruise).

You can call up the blood bank and ask to talk to a donor services manager. If you still have the paperwork they gave you when you left there is probably a direct phone number. If not, go to their website and there will be a phone number.
posted by radioamy at 4:01 PM on April 9, 2013

When I once had a large and disturbingly colorful bruise, I called the nurse hotline for my insurance company. The nurse there told me to outline the bruise in permanent marker so that I could make sure it wasn't getting bigger. Apparently, expanding borders are some kind of danger signal, because it means that the blood pooling is increasing rather than decreasing, or something. IANAD, but I'd do that and keep an eye on it for another day or two.

(In my case, this advice created much hilarity, because I had taken a tumble down the stairs, and the huge bruise was on my backside. I had to get my then-roommate to outline it for me because I couldn't reach it, and when she was done, the outline turned out to have a shape reminiscent of the male sexual organ. For a long time afterwards, we told everyone the story of the time I made her draw a giant dick on my ass in permanent marker. But medically, I was just fine. YMMV.)
posted by decathecting at 4:10 PM on April 9, 2013 [4 favorites]

It's just a bruise. Wait it out and it will go away.
posted by Lobster Garden at 4:12 PM on April 9, 2013

I used to give blood semi regularly. Not afraid of needles, healthy, type O, they give you cookies, helping, etc. One of the last times I gave blood, the technician put the needle all the way through the target vein and pierced the artery below it. When I finally got her to remove the needle, my arm blew up kind of like a volcano, hot bright orange blood went everywhere, including into my arm. It hurt like hell, and there was a lot of swelling, tenderness, and bruising subsequently. My arm was a variety of zombie-like shades from the middle of my biceps to halfway down my forearm, nearly all the way around. It took 8 weeks to get back to normal. The Red Cross called me once or twice to make sure there were no symptoms of infection. It was very painful and very ugly, but didn't require anything special beyond taking it a bit easy.

TL;DR: it will take some time, don't worry, seek professional advise if it gets worse. IANAD TINMA etc etc xoxo lol
posted by vortex genie 2 at 6:28 PM on April 9, 2013

Deep bruising can take a long time to heal, I wouldn't be concerned yet.

I take large doses of Vitamin C after bruising, which seems to help, along with arnica gel (many are homeopathic, but you can find naturopathic ones), and massaging the bruise.
posted by momus_window at 7:46 AM on April 10, 2013

You may have an iron deficiency

Don't they still do an iron test before you donate blood? I'm vaguely remembering someone who was turned away because her iron levels were too low. And I think they put that value on your paperwork.
posted by CathyG at 9:34 AM on April 10, 2013

I've also had this happen a couple of times after giving blood, particularly when they have had trouble sticking me and/or it's been a little more painful than usual to get stuck. It's always gone away in 1-4 weeks for me, but looks super gnarly in the meantime.
posted by Rallon at 10:44 AM on April 10, 2013

Yeah, I said above that this happened to me, but I forgot to mention that, like vortex genie, it was after a botched blood draw - the needle went through to an artery and a fountain of dark blood came out of my arm. It was super gory, but as I said, it was not actually a problem and went away after looking badass for a few weeks.
posted by Cygnet at 11:09 AM on April 15, 2013

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