Bruising and arm pain

Although we hope that no one will have any ill effects from giving blood, occasionally bruising of the arm may develop.

Bruising after blood donation

The bruise may look dramatic and some people can find this worrying, especially if it appears away from the donation area. Bruises are usually harmless and will disappear with time and it is normal for them to spread out before fading.

If you do experience a bruise the following advice may help during the first 36 hours after the bruise appeared.

Treat your bruise with RICE!

Rest - allow time for the bruise to heal. Protect the bruise by avoiding heavy lifting, eg at the gym or carrying heavy shopping, and only light, gentle movement is recommended. After 36 hours, return to normal activity.

Ice - do not place directly on the skin but under a cloth.

Compression - pressing on the point where the needle was inserted. 

Elevation - if possible, raise your arm above the level of your heart when at rest. If you require pain relief take paracetamol (according to manufacturer’s instructions) but avoid aspirin and ibuprofen for the first 24 hours.

After 36 hours, 'contrast bathing' may help reduce any swelling. This requires putting a cold cloth on the affected area for 10 minutes followed by a warm cloth for 10 minutes and repeating this several times, ending with a cold cloth.

Other potential side effects

If you are experiencing any of the following you should seek further medical help:

  • Severe or worsening pain.
  • Numbness or pins and needles to your arm, hand or finger.
  • Swelling that is large or increasing in size.
  • Painful redness/inflammation.
  • Coldness or paleness of your lower arm or hand of the affected arm.

Further information

If you are worried or require further information call our donor helpline on 0300 123 23 23

Register today to be a blood donor