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.
Update Date 1/27/2015
Updated by: Yi-Bin Chen, MD, leukemia/bone marrow transplant program, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.