Conditions, Health and Wellness

8 Coping Strategies for Needle Phobia

2 Comments 27 May 2014

BloodDonation_400If you hate needles but need blood drawn, here’s how to make the task less cringe-worthy. From The Silver Lining: A Supportive & Insightful Guide to Breast Cancer.

● Tell the phlebotomist (the person who draws your blood) or your nurse that you have needle phobia.

● Look away or close your eyes. If you’re frightened, why torture yourself by watching?

● Take deep breaths, especially when the needle punctures your skin.

● Allow a maximum of two sticks per person. Hold your ground. Tell the person, “I have a two-stick-maximum policy. I’d like another phlebotomist, please.”

● Request a butterfly needle. It is the smallest needle available and just as effective.

● For especially difficult veins, you can request a topical numbing agent (though not all labs have them).

● Busy your mind by counting backward from some unreasonable number that will actually make you think as you count down (e.g., 1,359,112).

● Don’t chat with the phlebotomist. It is important for the person taking aim at your veins to be fully focused on the task at hand.

The Silver Lining

The Silver Lining

Hollye Jacobs


Hollye Jacobs, RN, MS, MSW, speaks publicly and writes about her experience on her award-winning blog, She is a frequent contributor to The Huffington Post,, Susan G. Komen, and the Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation Army of Women Blog. She lives in Santa Barbara, California, with her family.

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  • Dr. Amy

    Great article and subject! A few caveats: Numbing creams actually make veins harder to find, except for EMLA (there is vasodilation after 2 hours, but frank vasoconstriction before 1.5 hours). Heat packs directly help bring up poor veins, Buzzy placed proximally helps make the veins bigger and decrease pain, and visual counting and finding tasks can decrease pain by half!

  • For Posts Only

    As an expert at having a needle phobia (as well as blood), ask to lie down to have the blood taken. This will help keep your blood flowing to your brain. Get up slowly after, and sit for a few seconds or a minute. Otherwise, if you’re like me, you’re more likely to faint because you’ll experience a severe drop in blood pressure, your brain won’t get enough oxygen and you faint.


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