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 2/13/2015
Updated by: Rita Nanda, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Section of Hematology/Oncology, University of Chicago Medicine, Chicago, IL. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.