Clotting agents are hemostatic agents designed to quickly stop bleeding. Normally, to stop bleeding you use an absorbent material (such as gauze) apply direct pressure, and elevate the wound over the heart (if possible). If this method does not work then you might try a clotting agent. Clotting agents come in a variety of formats including powders, sponges, and rolls.
Some advantages of clotting agents include:
- Very easy to carry and use
- Fast acting
- Stops bleeding immediately
- Protects wound against further injury
- Faster healing time
When using a clotting agent:
- Clean the wound to be sure that it is free of debris. You can use the backflush syringe in your water kit to flush debris from the wound (details). Make sure the wound is clean and free of debris. You do NOT want to trap dirt or debris in the wound where it can cause an infection.
- Use just enough clotting agent to cover the wound. Using the agent anywhere other than the wound will not help. Use light pressure, meaning, a little more than the weight of your hand.
- Keep pressure on the wound and do remove the compress to examine the wound.
- Leave the clotting agent in/on the wound and bandage it. It can be washed out at the hospital, or left in to dissintegrate naturally.
Most of these clotting agents quickly turn into a gel to stop bleeding. The agent can be washed out later (normally this is left to hospital staff). Check the expiration date of your product and replace any expired product. Clotting agents are excellent product but they are NOT for life-threatening injuries and they are NOT a substitute for stitches.
How Do They Work?
These clotting hemostatic agents designed to stop blood flow. They use different active ingredients that have different properties.
Kaolin (Combat Gauze) and Smectite (WoundStat) are the mineral-based agents that accelerate the body’s natural clotting ability. These products rely on the ability of one’s body to form a stable clot. Kaolin is an inorganic mineral that accelerates the body’s natural clotting ability without producing exothermic reactions.
Chitosan-based products (pronounced kye-toe-san) include Celox, ChitoGauze (HemCon), and ChitoSAM (Sawyer). Chitosan is a non-clay-based hemostatic agent that works independently of the body’s intrinsic clotting ability. I welcome expert insight regarding these clotting agents. If you have medical or first responder experience please share your insights so that I can make this page more complete and informative.
From my research it seems that it is best to NOT rely on the body’s ability to stop bleeding in a life or death environment. If a victim takes aspirin or blood-thinners then clotting products that depend on the patient’s body for clotting may be less effective (reference article).