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What Causes Blow Vein & How Can It Be Treated?

What is a Blow Vein?

A ruptured vein that leaks blood is known as blow vein. It occurs when the act of insertion of a needle in a vein doesn’t go right. The blood leaks and the skin darken around the insertion site.

What is a Blow Vein?

Blow vein is not dangerous but should be treated the right way and the ruptured vein should not be used to draw blood or should not be used as an IV.It can lead to challenges in the treatment, therefore the healthcare professional or the patient needs to be aware of the signs of blow vein.

Signs and Symptoms Of A Blow Vein

As soon as blow vein occurs, there is a noticeable discoloration including the following symptoms:

  • Tenderness and mild pain at and around the site of injection
  • Bruising
  • Swelling
  • Stinging pain

When the blow veins caves in due to swelling, it is known as a collapsed vein, which means the blood can no longer flow through the vein. The blood flow resumes once the swelling reduces.

In some cases, the damage is severe enough and the collapsed vein can be permanent.

Causes of Blow Vein

There are numerous reasons which can lead to blow vein, the most common ones are listed below:

The Wrong Needle Size

Veins are of different sizes so are the needles. It is very important to determine the correct size needle to be inserted into the vein. A vein can blow if perforated by a needle which is too large.

Inform the nurse or the doctor, if you have faced a problem with any particular vein in the past.

Wrong Angle Of Insertion

The needle must be inserted at the correct angle, and not too shallow neither too deep.

An incorrect angle can lead to blow vein.

If the first try to insert the needle into the vein is not correct, do not move the needle around in the search of another vein. Pull out the needle and reinsert in a better location.

Rolling Veins

Some of the thicker and tougher veins bounce or roll away when the physician tries to insert the needle.

In such a case, the vein gets punctured but the needle does not get in before the vein rolls. This leads to blow vein.

Moving During Insertion

If the patient moves when the needle is being inserted, there can be a risk of blow vein.

It is therefore important to relax and stay still when the healthcare physician inserts the needle till the time he loosens the tourniquet tied to keep the area still.


As we age the risk of blow vein increases. It happens because the tissue beneath the skin loosens and the veins become fragile and less stable and can roll around during IV insertion.

Long-Term IV Drug Use

IV drugs can cause damage to the veins and can lead to the formation of scar tissue. This can happen in a condition that requires regular use of IV drugs such as those receiving chemotherapy.

It can happen both due to needle abuse and drug abuse.

Research shows heroin activity can damage veins (1)

How is Blow Vein Treated?

If after a needle insertion there is swelling or bruising, you should know you have got blow vein. It is harmless but can cause discomfort.

A little pressure applied to the injection site can minimize blood loss and swelling. The area should be cleaned after to prevent infection.

An ice pack can be applied, as it can help to ease the swelling caused due to blow vein.

The discomfort lasts for a day or two. Bruise lightens within a few days and disappears completely within 10-12 days.

In cases where a lot of fluid has pooled under the skin there are chances of damage to the nerves. In such cases the fluid has to be removed with a needle. A follow up surgical procedure may be required to repair any damage.

Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:March 6, 2020

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