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Caring For a Suspected or Actual Extravasation

This information explains how to care for a suspected or actual extravasation.

Extravasation (ex-tra-va-say-shun) is when a medication leaks from a vein into the tissue around it. This can cause skin irritation, blisters, and open wounds. 

You are receiving this information because there is a chance that some of the medication you received leaked into your tissue. To reduce any pain and irritation, follow the instructions below. 

Caring for the Site

  • Apply a ________________compress to the site 4 to 5 times a day for the next 48 hours. Leave the compress on for 20 minutes each time. This will help decrease the swelling and discomfort.
  • Elevate the affected area on a pillow as often as you can for the next 24 to 48 hours. This will help decrease the swelling and improve the blood supply to the area.
  • Shower with a mild soap and gently dry the site. Do not soak it in anything.
  • If you received medication, apply it to the site as instructed. Do not apply any other lotions, creams, or ointments to the site unless you are instructed by your doctor.
  • Cover the area before you go outside to protect it from sunlight.
  • Do not cover the site with clothing that is tight or that irritates the site.
  • Do not massage the area.

Follow-up Care

If the medication that leaked was chemotherapy, your nurse will call you the day after the suspected or actual extravasation to check on you. He or she will continue to call you once a week for the next 3 to 6 weeks. Your nurse will let you know if you need to continue caring for your extravasation site.

It is important that we have a phone number where we can reach you. If you miss the call, please call your nurse back at ____________________.

Call Your Doctor or Nurse If You Have:

  • Changes at the site, such as:
    • Increased pain
    • Increased redness or skin discoloration
    • Increased swelling
    • Any broken skin such as blisters or drainage of fluid
    • Numbness, tingling, or change in sensation in the hand or arm
    • Skin feeling warm or hot to the touch
  • Trouble moving the area (e.g., bending your arm)
  • A temperature of 100.4° F (38° C) or higher
  • Any questions or concerns