The average adult has about 5 liters of blood surging through them accounting for up to 7% of our body weight. Newborns only have about a cup. Children are somewhere in between, increasing blood supply as they grow. Blood is the fluid of life, so why are we so frightened when we see it?
Because of AIDS, hepatitis B, and other blood-borne pathogens, many adults are justifiably fearful of spilled blood. It only takes a speck of fresh blood from a person with hepatitis B to infect an unimmunized person. This is a true reason to fear blood. Fortunately, most people do not have hepatitis B, but that does not mean we should not always be careful.
Fear of blood begins in early childhood. Kids often scream when the see a drop of blood during a routine hemoglobin check. With the exception of normal menstruation, blood is supposed to stay inside us – inside those blood vessels. When human tissue becomes injured, it may bleed; a lot. In children, it seems that the amount of blood may be inversely proportional to the size of the hole created. In other words, the tiniest scalp laceration could make your two year old appear to be a bomb victim. Most parents and day-care providers apparently do not know this, based on the number of unnecessary 911 calls. It is very embarrassing when a pack of paramedics arrive and no one can find the hole that caused the bleeding.
Children look to adults for strength and comfort. When kids see trusted adults and parents running around in some kind of frenzy, they panic too.
A frightening, but harmless blood episode is the subconjunctival hemorrhage. This is an innocent rupture of the tiny blood vessels overlying the white part of the eye, often a consequence of vomiting, sneezing, coughing, breath-holding, eye rubbing, or even straining for a bowel movement. This bloody-looking eye is not sight-threatening and will heal spontaneously in a week or so.
Nosebleeds are another cause for concern. The most common cause of a nosebleed is nose-picking. Kids practice some serious, deep-digital penetration, trophy-hunting nose-picking, not the innocent, clandestine nose-picking practiced by adults at red lights. Other causes include a dry environment, colds, and allergies. Once the nose bleeds, the body will stop the bleeding by forming a scab. Unfortunately, scabs do not stick very well to the very vascular, mucous lining of the nose, and can feel more or less identical to the elusive booger. When probing fingers hit this scab, the nose will surely bleed again, and the healing process will be repeated.