This page gives you information about extravasation and how to care for your skin should this happen.


The accidental leaking of drugs from an intravenous injection site

What is extravasation?

Extravasation is when a drug has accidentally leaked from the vein (the injection site) into the surrounding skin.

Extravasation is very rare but if left untreated it could lead to serious damage to the skin. It is important that you follow the advice given to you by the nurse or radiographer and the instructions on this page.

If this happens you would have reddening and a stinging sensation in your limb, a possible swelling of the arm or hand and some pain which usually wears off after about 30 minutes.

Is there anything I can do at home?

For the first 24 hours following the leak, you are advised to massage the area where the leak has occurred and keep the affected limb raised by 15 to 25 cm above the level of your heart as much as possible.

At night, keep the affect limb raised on 2 pillows. Continue to do this until the swelling has gone down.

You may also use an ice-pack or frozen vegetables, wrapped in a clean tea-towel, placed over the site to help reduce any swelling. Never place ice directly onto your skin as this may cause frostbite. Do not leave the ice-pack on for more than

15 minutes at a time.

If the area is painful, take your usual pain relief.


You should contact your GP or NHS 111 if you experience any of the following symptoms:

  • The pain becomes more severe and is not controlled by simple pain relief such as paracetamol.
  • You have increased swelling of your arm or hand.
  • Your arm or hand changes in colour.
  • You have pins and needles in your arm or hand.
  • You have blisters or peeling of the skin around the injection site.

For your information

Your healthcare provider will advise the drug and approximate volume of extravasation.

Contact information

If you have any questions or concerns about your scan, please contact the Radiology Nursing Team quoting your name and hospital number. This is your MRN number, which can be provided by your healthcare professional.

Radiology Nursing Team

Tel: 0300 422 5152 or

Tel: 0300 422 3063

Monday to Friday, 9:00am to 5:00pm

Outside of these hours, please contact NHS 111 for advice.

NHS 111

Tel: 111

We are pleased that we can offer state of the art technology for diagnosis. However, radiology equipment needs constant updating and there is a charitable fund for this. If you would like to make a donation, please send a cheque to the address below. Cheques are payable to GHNHSFT.

Please send your donation to:

Business Manager, Dept of Radiology (Imaging 1), Gloucestershire Royal Hospital, London Road, Gloucester GL1 1NN

Printable version of this page

Extravasation GHPI1450_02_24 Department: Radiology Review due: February 2027 PDF, 260.8 KB, 3 pages
Reference number GHPI1450_02_24
Department Radiology
Review due February 2027