Although leeches are relatively harmless, and you are not likely to bleed out from a bite, the blood stain on your clothes can be off-putting to your hiking buddies.

Is there any effective way to counteract the anti-coagulant leeches inject into the bite, and thus stop the blood-flow in a timely manner?

  • 1
    Not really answer worthy, but why not just carry clotting powder? It's a pretty good item for a first aid kit anyhow. Commented Jun 14, 2014 at 14:46
  • Cauterization? It shouldn't be to painful considering the size of the bite.
    – Desorder
    Commented Mar 6, 2016 at 21:01
  • To remove a leech use your fingernail to get under its sucker, like you would use a shovel. This forces it to release the bite without regurgitating into your system. After that clean with alcohol, the use your own saliva on the wounds. Saliva has compouds in it that accelerates wound healing, and has been proven in laboratory to greatly accelerate skin healing. Or use neosporin... To prevent it bleeding too much I usually bandage with gauze, and I add in a pebble in the bandage after the first couple of layers to apply localized pressure on the wound. Commented Jul 30, 2017 at 21:40
  • Letting them finish is a perfectly good solution, they close the wound after finishing. Maybe not the answer you are after...
    – Stian
    Commented Apr 10, 2021 at 17:36

9 Answers 9


As far as I know, there is no way to stop the bleeding with out constant pressure. On the bright side, you only give up 1-3 CCs of blood due to leech bites.

The problem with leech bites and hiking is your heart is pumping harder while you hike, pushing more blood around. Its not uncommon for the bite to last several hours. However short of constant pressure or some type of sealant, I've not heard of anything you can do.

  • I am not sure this is the correct answer. A leach may only take 1-3CCs of blood during a 20 minute feeding, but the wound will continue to leak for up to 24 hours. Commented May 9, 2016 at 15:19

Unlikely to help unless a tea bag is handy but the tannins in black tea bags contain tranexamic acid which helps clot blood. Just had 5 hours of bleeding from a leech which didn't stop with heavy bandaging and elevation of my leg. I applied a tea bag I had wet in tap water for 5 mins and it hasn't bled since. Old medical trick. Its like an antidote to the chemical in the leech's saliva which actually stops you from clotting.

  • 1
    Easy enough to make sure you have a few tea bags in your medical kit, that is when you do not have it in your drinks kit.
    – Willeke
    Commented Mar 20, 2018 at 10:39

I have heard that if you do not remove the leech until it gets full and naturally drops off that you will not bleed much, and that it is safer because you reduce the risk of infection. At the moment I can't find good sources for this, only:

  • How to Remove a Leech (Go Borneo Travel. Com):

    In case the leech has already got you, do not pull it out. The commonly used techniques of burning, salting and squeezing result in the leech vomiting harmful bacteria back into your system.

    Leeches fall out on their own once full. If you can continue hiking with the thought of a small Dracula hanging off your body do so. It will not take longer than 20 minutes for the leech to give up and remove itself safely.

  • How to remove a leech (Wild Madagascar. Org):

    NOTE: Is it generally not advised to attempt removing a leech by burning with a cigarette; applying mosquito repellent, shampoo, or salt; or pulling at the leech. This can result the leech regurgitating into the wound and causing infection much worse than the leech bite itself.

Not what I would consider reliable and no comment on bleeding specifically, so unless someone can corroborate this theory I shall eventually delete this answer.

  • I also tried to find some information on this, because I intuitively would say thats the right thing to do. That´s also the way they are applied for therapeutical use. But I couldn´t find any reliable sources. Commented Jun 15, 2014 at 14:22
  • 2
    @Aravona and Paul: I guess for us to find out someone is going to have go get some leeches and take one for the team. :o)
    – Mr.Wizard
    Commented Jun 24, 2014 at 15:47

Septic pencil, bandage.


Leeches must be removed from the skin carefully. If a leech is ripped from the skin, its fangs may break off and remain embedded, which induces ulcer formation. Leech removal is facilitated by application of a few drops of alcohol, vinegar, or brine. An alternative removal method involves the application of a lit match to the leech at the attachment site. After leech removal, the site should be inspected carefully to insure that the fangs are absent. Hemostasis (bleeding control) can be achieved by applying direct pressure and using a styptic pencil ( a short medicated stick, often made of alum that can be applied to a cut to stop bleeding), oxidized regenerated cellulose absorbable hemostat, or topical thrombin. The wound should be cleansed thoroughly with an antiseptic several times daily and a multi-purpose topical antibiotic applied to prevent infection. (source)

  • 1
    Yep. Styptic pencil will stop it. Also great for shaving.
    – Eric G
    Commented Apr 13, 2021 at 16:33

I faced the same and a waiter at a restaurant suggested me this. Just apply a pinch of turmeric at the spot a couple of times. I worked wonders for me instantly.

Another report of this:


Cuts/Bleeding: Turmeric has styptic properties. This is a common kitchen remedy in India for minor cuts. We have also stopped bleeding from minor cuts and wounds quickly by dusting them with turmeric powder. I was SO happy to learn this tip, because the only other styptic herb I had heard of was cayenne, and I am a big scardy-cat about hot things in my mouth or on my bleeding wounds. Turmeric doesn’t hurt or sting, but it leaves a yellow tinge to your skin.


Plantago major (broadleaf plantain, white man's foot, or greater plantain).

Plantago major

Image source

Plantain is found all over the world, and is one of the most abundant and accessible medicinal herbs. It contains many bioactive compounds, including allantoin, aucubin, ursolic acid, flavonoids, and asperuloside. Scientific studies have shown that plantain extract has a wide range of biological effects, including wound healing activity, anti-inflammatory, analgesic, antioxidant, weak antibiotic, immuno modulating and antiulcerogenic activity.

So, tie some up on the wound with a gauze.


Put some paper ash (just burn a small piece of paper and collect the ash) in the area where you were bit. Bleeding will stop.

  • Interesting suggestion. Have you done this yourself? Can you support it with a 3rd party reference? Do you know by what mechanism it works? Any particular kind of paper? I ask because US newsprint leaves very little ash at all if I recall.
    – Mr.Wizard
    Commented Apr 20, 2017 at 18:12

If you are backpacking, then you might be carrying an alum crystal, which makes a good fragrance-free deodorant as well as a styptic. I also tried a slice of turmeric (the powder might have been better?). These didn't work immediately for me, and I was advised at the herb store to make tea from yarrow flower. The yarrow goes in a small cloth bag. I heated it in water, squeezed out the excess water, and applied the wet bag to the bite. It might have been just a matter of time but the yarrow seemed more effective. The people at the store also suggested cinnamon powder and cayenne powder as spices that can be used to stop bleeding.

  • Happy to fix anything that might have bothered the downvoter - should I add links or what? Commented Apr 16, 2021 at 18:44

Put some burned paper ash. It will stop the blood-flow. Or else, just stick a piece of paper on the wound.

  • 1
    sean - neither of your solutions actually work. You need the combination of pressure and a material which doesn't let the blood leak through.
    – Rory Alsop
    Commented Jun 10, 2014 at 21:30
  • 1
    I actually find this a rather interesting answer, and would love for Sean follow up with more information. (I hadn't given it too much thought until Mazura's answer.) Although "burnt paper" may technically also be called "oxidized cellulose", the medical product is a gauze that's been partially oxidized, usually by chemical means. It's absorbable by the body and works by promoting clotting rather than through mechanical pressure. If Sean's suggestion works, I would expect the mechanism to be similar. Unfortunately supporting data is very hard to find!
    – requiem
    Commented Jun 15, 2014 at 21:39

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