Bloodletting Tools

Written by: SphynxCatVP
Link to original: http://sphynxcatvp.nocturna.org/articles/sc-tools.html

Basic Precautions

Be careful about wound location

As with all bloodletting implements, it's best if you know the safe locations to use them, or more specifically, the locations NOT to use them. A copy of Gray's Anatomy or any other decent medical anatomy book will show you the locations of the major arteries and other things to avoid. Some bookstores will let you "browse before you buy", or failing that in your area, perhaps your local library will have a copy of something applicable that you can browse. You can also use Gray's Anatomy Online if you cant' afford (or can't find) a good medical anatomy book local to you.

Screen your donor/yourself

Just because you need to drink blood doesn't mean you have to ignore the possibility of fatal diseases. Most cities and towns have some sort of free or low-cost clinic where you can get blood tests run to verify you/your donor is as healthy as you/they appear.

Sterilize/Clean equipment

Shortgoth wrote an excellent overview on sterilization methods - I highly recommend reading it. Clean and sterilized equipment greatly reduces the risk of infection from contaminants. Also be sure to clean/sterilize the area to be cut on your donor so that there's less of a chance for surface bacteria to get into the wound.

Because any bloodletting tool can carry the risk of blood-borne disease from one use to the next, they should be disposed of after every use when practical (I know people aren't going to want to throw out knives, but razor blades, lancets and other cheap-to-replace things certainly can be.)

First Aid / Post-Wound cleanup

Wash the wound with an antibacterial wipe, soap and water, or some other cleaning item. Use an antibacterial cream/ointment (such as Polysporin or Neosporin) on the wound and put a Band-Aid or other bandage on top for ease of healing and to keep external stuff (such as dirt) from getting into the wound. If you're concerned about the wound reopening, masking tape or surgical tape will be better to keep the wound closed.

If you have never taken a First Aid class, do so! It will save potential hassles down the line, and give you a better understanding of how to care for most types of wounds generally encountered in day-to-day life.

Scarring

Most bloodletting methods will come with a greater or lesser likelihood of scarring. You AND your donor should be aware of this, and the donor should be aware that the scars are very likely to be PERMANENT - which makes a difference, for example, if they plan to wear swimsuits, especially skimpy swimsuits, as the scars in most places will be visible to anyone else. ALL donors should be prepared for this eventuality.

Also, visible scarring may impact the donor's medical care at any medical facility, if they think the donor is either a cutter or attention seeker. This may result in them being referred for only a psychiatric evaluation, instead of getting treatment for a valid medical problem that they went in for. This is why it's important for any scarring to be out of sight.

Scarring can be reduced (or eliminated if the user is persistent and patient enough) by high-strength vitamin E oil. Proper vitamin E oil of this type is extremely viscous, like a thick honey, and will be 28,000IU strength or higher. You can see a list of them (along with some watery not-so-good varieties) over on Amazon. This should be applied - once the wound is healed - several times a day for a few weeks. The area will be VERY sticky doing this, and will likely collect every stray bit of lint that goes by, but if you're persistent enough, it will eventually work.

Location, Location, Location

Talk with your donor to find out where they would prefer to have the bloodletting tool used. If the donor is doing the cutting (recommended) this will likely be the easiest for them, as they can choose the spot that they KNOW is less painful for them.

On average, the least painful locations seem to be the outer side of the arms, the back/shoulderblades, and the top of the shoulders, well away from the curve of the neck. If any potential location is an erogenous zone, then it will likely be too painful to use (unless your donor is into pain, which most are NOT...)

Autolancets / Lancets / Penlets / Microlets (Safest, Easiest, Most Painless)

I always recommend these to anyone who's unsure what tool or device to use because they're relatively goof-proof as long as you don't use them over any bad location (i.e., major arteries, etc.) These are devices commonly used by diabetics, acupuncturists and people testing their cholesterol (depending on country and/or area). They also have the advantage of being nearly painless, relatively inexpensive, and available nearly anywhere diabetic supplies are sold.

These come in various forms depending on where you are located. See the various types of lancing devices and their particular lancets so you know what to look for - not all lancets will function in all devices, and what is actually available in your area will vary.

Another type of lancet not covered on that page is once called the "Microtainer Contact-Activated Lancet" in blue. (they're color-coded by size) This is a single-use-only variety that's suppose to automatically activate when pressed against the skin - an entirely self-contained lancing device. You can see some shopping links here and here (200 packs) and here (available in quantities of 1, 10, 50, 100 and 200 packs). If none of those links are working, you can also find them on Amazon.

Scarring is minimal with these items, as the wound area is very tiny, even with multiple pokes.

Blades - Craft Knife / Exacto Knife (Convenient)

Model hobbyists will usually have craft knives, super glue, masking tape, and sometimes isopropyl alcohol on hand for use in various modeling activities. Coincidentally, these are also all useful for bloodletting activities as well - so if you are known to have a modeling hobby, nobody will think twice about you having any of these supplies on hand. (It will greatly help this if you HAVE models on display in your residence as well.)

The advantages of a craft knife is that you're able to replace the blade easily, and most blades of this type are designed to work interchangeably with craft knife type handles, so you can likely get scalpel blades and use the same handle.

Shortgoth wrote an excellent overview on blades which I highly recommend reading.

Here is a image of what a set of craft knives should roughly look like:

And a sample set of scalpels, so you can see the similarity in some of the blade shapes:

Blades - Razor (Convenient)

Razor blades tend not to be as sharp or as clean as exacto blades. This is not recommended for the injury-squeamish or for those who are nervous about the whole bloodletting thing to begin with! Razor blades are meant for shaving motions more than cutting, be aware that you have to be very very careful, otherwise they will not make as neat a wound.

There's always a risk of scarring with this or any other type of bladed instrument, which can be minimized by cleaning the wound and frequently applying a high I.U. strength vitamin E oil as it's healing. (Remember, the proper strength oil will be highly viscous, like raw honey, rather than watery.)

Here's some images of the types of razor blades I'm discussing here:

Safety razorblade.

Safety razorblade: Typically used in paint scrapers tools. One side is covered to reduce injury when used by hand. Not to be confused with a safety razor.


Double sided razor.

Doublesided razor: These are typically used in safety razors - not disposables - where just the blade is replaced. (Safety razors aren't as popular now with the advent of disposables, but the blades are still made.)


Teeth

I know there's folks out there that prefer using teeth instead of a sharp instrument, whether for expediency, because they feel they "have to" because it's more vampiric, or whatever other reason they come up with - however it's not recommended because the mouth IS a known breeding ground for many germs that can be nasty if they get into the bloodstream.

I don't recommend this - especially if you're worried about losing control - but if you feel you MUST do this, then:

  1. brush your teeth no less than 1-2 hours beforehand. This gives any bleeding gums a chance to stop bleeding, and to let the toothpaste flavor fade, because really, blood mixed with toothpaste flavor? Nasty combination. *makes ugly face* The main intent here - especially if you don't brush very often - is to get the accumulated gunk off your teeth so it doesn't contaminate the wound and cause infection.
  2. Use listerine or other sanitizing mouthwash right beforehand. (To kill any wandering germs that have crept in since brushing.)
  3. Also sterilize the area to be bitten, or at least wipe down with alcohol. Use proper cleanup procedures afterward for best healing results.

Needles

Also known as "the fastest way to scare a nervous donor..." :)

Needles should NEVER EVER be used on someone else by anyone who isn't a trained phlebotomist. Ever. No ifs ands or buts about it. It's too easy for the untrained to possibly kill a person, or cause serious or critical injuries with a needle.

There's enough other methods to use, so I really don't feel this should be recommended to anyone without training.