The sight of their baby’s blood can be a frightening and guilt-inducing experience for any parent.
Particularly when bleeding has been caused by them…
We’ve all been there.
Clipping your wriggling baby’s nails can be a nerve-racking task. So, unless you are a brain surgeon, you can easily snip the tiny fingertips!
Such accidents happen often, so don’t be too hard on yourself!
The typical clotting time for small wounds, such as snipped fingertips, is around 10 minutes.
But what if the finger won’t stop bleeding within this time?
Let’s explore how to stop the bleeding from your baby’s fingers and the possible causes of excessive and prolonged bleeding.
Why Won’t My Baby’s Finger Stop Bleeding?
Baby’s fingers have a solid blood supply. The veins are located right under the skin surface, so even the slightest cut can cause – what may seem – excessive bleeding. Normally, the wound should clot within a few minutes of applying direct pressure. You should seek medical advice if it doesn’t. It is also a good idea to rule out the possible, albeit rare, health conditions that may contribute to prolonged bleeding. These include vitamin K deficiency, haemophilia or thrombocytopenia.
1. How You Can Stop Your Baby’s Finger From Bleeding In 5 Steps.
Assuming the wound is relatively minor, it doesn’t pose any danger to your baby.
If the bleeding is caused by accidentally trimmed fingertips during nail cutting there is no risk of damage to the tendons or nerves.
(To reiterate – we are talking about minor cuts, not major trauma, in which case you need to address it completely different manner).
Therefore, you don’t need to see a doctor or rush to Accident & Emergency. You can deal with it by yourself at home.
Simply follow these 5 steps:
- Always ensure the wound is clean to prevent infection that may cause tetanus. Thankfully, babies can be protected against tetanus due to the vaccination that is given to babies in 3 doses – at age 8, 12 and 16 weeks. So to clean the cut, use water and soap. Stay clear of antiseptics, as it might trigger an allergic reaction.
- Apply gentle pressure directly on the cut using sterile gauze. After 10 minutes check if the bleeding has stopped.
- Secure the gauze using medical tape and cover it with a mitten or sock to prevent your baby from nibbling on it. Avoid bandages, as they can be a choking hazard for young babies.
- If the dressing gets soaked through, add another layer and keep applying pressure.
- You can also elevate the baby’s hand above the heart to slow down the blood flow to the bleeding finger.
2. When To Seek Medical Attention?
If the bleeding doesn’t stop after 10 min of applying pressure, it is probably worth seeking advice from a medical professional. It may be that the cut is more severe than you thought (ouch).
3. What Can Cause Delayed Blood Clotting In Babies?
Although rare, some medical conditions may cause excessive and prolonged bleeding even from the tiniest cut caused by nail clippers. Among these conditions are vitamin K deficiency, haemophilia and thrombocytopenia.
3.1 Vitamin K deficiency
Vitamin K is a vital substance necessary to help form a clot and stop bleeding. Babies are born with minimal amounts of vitamin K in their bodies. That’s because, during pregnancy, it isn’t absorbed by the placenta well.
Vitamin K can be easily acquired by food, specifically from leafy greens. However, babies won’t have this option until they start weaning.
As breast milk contains insufficient vitamin K, exclusively breastfed babies won’t get enough of it from milk either.
Another source of vitamin K is their own gut microbiome which can produce vitamin K.
But, it will take some time until the baby’s sterile gut becomes colonized by the friendly bacteria to start this production.
That’s why it is now a common practice to give babies a vitamin K shot (upon consent from a parent) within the first few hours of their life.
Your baby is at high risk for vitamin K deficiency bleeding without this injection.
This can occur either internally or externally and can be fatal in consequence. The most common signs of vitamin K deficiency bleeding are;
- Bruises around the baby’s head and face
- Bleeding from the umbilical cord and nose
- Paler skin and gum colour
- Blood in stool and vomiting blood
- Excessive sleepiness
This devastating condition can be easily prevented by giving babies a vitamin K injection. This is a totally safe substance that has a lot of research to back it up.
Haemophilia is an extremely rare genetic disorder. It prevents the blood from forming a clot because of the lack of blood-clotting protein – clotting factor. Hence, after an injury, such as a finger cut, your baby can bruise easily, bleed excessively and for longer than usual.
A blood test can be used to diagnose haemophilia, such as a complete blood count, clotting factors, or prothrombin time (a measure of how fast blood clots).
If the mother carries haemophilia, there is a 50% chance she will pass the disease to the baby. Therefore, babies will usually be tested at birth to check if they inherited it.
The disorder is treatable by factor replacement therapy which involves injecting clotting factors into a vein. This treatment can be administered at home or in the hospital.
Paediatric thrombocytopenia is an autoimmune disorder. It is caused by the baby not having enough platelets in the blood.
Platelets are made in the bone marrow, and their primary function is to help the blood clot.
The mild cases of thrombocytopenia may not exhibit any symptoms.
But those babies who have symptoms may experience the following;
- Prolonged bleeding from minor cuts
- Easy bruising
- Bleeding from the nose or gums
Thrombocytopenia can be developed by a baby if the immune system attacks and destroys platelets or if the bone marrow doesn’t produce enough platelets. This can occur because of viral infection, immune system disorders such as lupus erythematosus, bone marrow disorders such as leukaemia or lymphoma.
Also, babies born prematurely or have low birth weight are particularly prone to this disease.
Thrombocytopenia is diagnosed based on the platelet count blood test. Majority of babies diagnosed with this condition recover without any treatment. However, in some cases, a platelet transfusion may be required.
4. Final Few Lines
Indeed, there is no way around it – you need to keep your baby’s nails nice and short to avoid scratches all over her face caused by ever-moving little hands.
However, if you accidentally snipped your little one fingertip, and the bleeding persists, you should call your health care provider.
There is a rare chance that your baby may develop vitamin K deficiency bleeding, haemophilia or thrombocytopenia. These can be diagnosed by performing a blood test.
And finally, you may consider clipping your baby’s nails during her nap to reduce the chance of accidents. Or alternatively, you can use a soft file to keep the nails tidy.