Platelets are very small cells in the blood that help with blood clotting. When your child does not have enough platelets, it is called thrombocytopenia. Signs of low platelets include:
- Easy bruising
- Bleeding (commonly from the gums or nose)
- Petechia, tiny pink/purple freckle-like spots on the skin
If your child’s platelets are low:
- Avoid activities that could cause an injury to the head, such as skateboarding, trampoline, cycling, skiing, or contact sports.
- Insist that your child use seat belts, car seats, and helmets.
- Don’t use ibuprofen or aspirin because they may keep platelets from working properly.
- Don’t use rectal medicine or thermometers.
- Don’t use douches, enemas, or tampons.
If your child starts bleeding:
- Apply pressure until bleeding stops.
- To stop a nosebleed:
- Have your child sit up and lean forward
- Pinch the bridge of the nose over the bone for 10 minutes. (The pressure must be tight on both sides to be effective.)
- A cold pack held on the nose could also be helpful
Call the clinic if:
- Your child has a nosebleed that doesn’t stop after 10 minutes of pressure.
- Your child begins to bleed or ooze blood from the gums.
- Your child is injured by a fall while platelets are low.
- You notice blood in a bowel movement — this can look like bright red blood or just a blackish bowel movement.
- You notice blood in the urine — the urine can look pink.
- Your child looks sick and you are concerned.
- Your child has a severe headache.
During cancer treatment, if your child has any of these symptoms a complete blood count (CBC) helps doctors know if the problem is low platelets (thrombocytopenia). Your child may need a platelet transfusion. For more information about blood transfusions see the fact sheet below: