The body contains a natural process to stop bleeding from minor cuts in a matter of several minutes. When a small artery is cut, the collagen fibers in its tissue are exposed, which signals the clotting process to begin. As platelets begin to adhere to the cut edges, they release chemicals to attract even more platelets. Eventually a platelet plug is formed, and the external bleeding stops. Clotting factors in the blood cause strands of blood-borne material, called fibrin, to stick together and seal the inside of the wound. Eventually, the cut blood vessel heals, and the blood clot dissolves after several days.
Review Date 5/10/2019
Updated by: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Clinical Associate Professor, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.