Skip to main contentSkip to main content

Low white blood cell count

A low white blood cell count usually means your body is not making enough white blood cells. It can increase your risk of getting infections.

What causes a low white blood cell count?

Common causes include:

Agranulocytosis and neutropenia are conditions that cause a low white blood cell count.

Treating a low white blood cell count

A blood test can tell you if your white blood cell count is low.

Your treatment will depend on what's causing your condition and will often include antibiotics.

You may also need specific treatment:

  • to boost your white blood cells
  • if you've got an infection

Signs of an infection may include:

  • a high temperature
  • chills and shivering
  • sore throat
  • mouth sores that keep returning
  • toothache
  • skin rashes
  • tiredness
  • flu-like symptoms

Occasionally, infections can lead to a life-threatening condition called sepsis.

Non-urgent advice: See a GP if:

  • you know you're at risk of a low white blood cell count and you get an infection
  • you keep getting infections

Things you can do yourself to avoid infections

If you have a low white blood cell count caused by illness or medicine you should take steps to avoid infections.

Do

  • avoid close contact with people who are sick

  • store and prepare food properly to avoid food poisoning

  • wash your hands with soap and warm water regularly

  • use an electric shaver instead of a razor

  • avoid shared hot tubs

Don't

  • do not share food, cups, utensils, toothbrushes or make-up

  • do not eat raw foods, like meat, shellfish and eggs

  • do not change cat litter or handle animal poo

  • do not change nappies

  • do not walk outside barefoot

  • do not swim in ponds and rivers