What are the different types of bleeding in first aid?

Life threatening bleeding is a medical emergency. First aiders should be competent at dealing with major blood loss. There are broadly three different types of bleeding: arterial, venous and capillary. 

How much blood do we have?

The amount of blood in our body varies in relation to our size. A rough rule is that we have approximately one pint of blood per stone in body weight (0.5 liters per 7kg), so the average adult has between 8 and 12 pints (4.5 to 6.5 liters) of blood, dependent on their size.

Remember that children have less blood than adults, and as such cannot afford to lose the same amount – a baby only has around 1 pint of blood.

What are the different types of bleeding? 

Arterial bleeding

Blood in the arteries is under direct pressure from the heart pumping and spurts in time with the heartbeat. A wound to a major artery could result in blood ‘spurting’ several meters and the blood volume will rapidly reduce. Blood in the arteries is rich in oxygen and is said to be bright red’, however, this
can be difficult to assess. 

Venous bleeding

Veins are not under direct pressure from the heart, but veins carry the same volume of blood as the arteries. A wound to a major vein may ‘ooze’ profusely.

Capillary bleeding

Bleeding from capillaries occurs in all wounds. Although the flow may appear fast at first, blood loss is usually slight and is easily controlled. Bleeding from a capillary could be described as a ‘trickle’ of blood.

The key first aid treatment for all of these types of bleeding is direct pressure over the wound. 


John Furst

JOHN FURST is an experienced emergency medical technician and qualified first aid and CPR instructor. John is passionate about first aid and believes everyone should have the skills and confidence to take action in an emergency situation.

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3 Responses

  1. sarahand says:

    Hi. I am just writing from iran to inform you that nobody cares here about an injured person lying on the street after a typical car/bike crash. today I was coming back home from work when I saw a 70 year old woman crowded around by lots of bystanders and three police officers in the street. the driver who had hit her was also there. the sun was in full shine and no doctors were present at the scene yet. they were all waiting for the ambulance to arrive. nobody cared to get her on to their car for a possibly quicker and earlier outreach to the hospital. the police didn’t care either. the woman as i approached was still breathing but was unconscious (as if she was sleeping, yet clearly breathing regularly) and the nose had already bled but not all over the face (now the blood was dried) and no bleeding was visible around the mouth nor around the forehead. the pulse was normal as i checked it on her wrist and she was just lying there on the street with all the dresses she wore. I rushed into a nearby medical clinic (a small one) and asked the doctor to come over. she refused: “no, i won’t be able to help. this would have consequences for me”!!!!! i got upset and back to the scene where nothing was changed since my last visit in half an hour. my question please: i am so disappointed with such social system and would like to ask you pls if the police and the doctor were right not to make a hurry/ help? could it cause any liabilities, especially for the doctor, if she helped? please tell me if my own behavior or tendency (the way i see and treat such situations) is wrong and potentially dangerous. Maybe I am too hysterical and the way i look at the situation is wrong. were I in their shoes, I would examine her vital signs first, would decide if it was right to move her/ inject her with some helpful factors, then I would get her as soon and quickly as possible on a car ( my own car, upon the permission of the police force) then i would drive fast towards the nearest facility, then i would get in either to give my own blood or to help nurses find a blood donor. PLEASE let me know what was/ is the right attitude to tackle such scenes by the traffic accidents. I was just thinking about her and her loved ones. I am so sad and I am sure this sadness won’t help her anymore

  2. Bettkims says:

    Hi too… I am replying from Kenya.
    I think the situation here in Kenya is a bit different from the one in Iran.
    I believe you are not hysterical but rather humane. I believe that the soul purpose of learning this medical courses is to help someone and safe a life.
    I also think that the doctor and the police who were at the scene are sort of selfish coz they will not get anything good in not trying to be time conscious in saving a life instead of thinking of their own welfare

  3. mariemarie15 says:


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