Styptic powder is an antihemorrhagic agent, which means it’s a substance used to stop bleeding. It works by contracting tissue and sealing off the blood vessel.
Most pet bird owners are familiar with styptic powder. Kwik Stop, which is often used to stop bleeding during nail trims or to control blood feather bleeding, is a styptic powder product. It causes blood vessels to contract and eventually seal off, effectively stopping the bleeding. It also helps blood clot and helps prevent bacteria from entering the bloodstream. Styptic powder is not a pain-killer, and as such, many of the styptic powders you can buy for your bird contain benzocaine to help with pain.
For people, styptic is more commonly used in the form of a styptic pencil. Styptic pencils are used similarly to styptic powder: when applied to small cuts, they help stop bleeding. This is especially helpful for things like nicks and cuts from shaving. Before safety razors, styptic pencils were a necessity — if you’ve ever used or seen an old razor you understand why! You can still buy styptic pencils at most drugstores. Of course, you can also borrow your bird’s Kwik Stop in the case of a “shaving emergency.” In fact, it may even feel better, considering that benzocaine usually feels a lot better on cuts than the alcohol found in styptic pencils!