Frequent Nosebleeds

Question of the Week

Mother tending to her son's nosebleed
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Q. My 5 year old daughter has severe nosebleeds 5-6 times a week. She can be sleeping, taking a bath, playing, at anytime of the day and they will start. They last sometimes up to 45 minutes, and not just a slight bleeding, but quite a bit of blood. She is blonde, fair skinned, 37" tall about 34 pounds, of german and norwegian heritage, active, good eater, normal little girl. She has been diagnosed with severe dermatitis/ecsema since she was a newborn. I also had nosebleeds as a child and once in a blue moon now. But they really scare her when they occur. They scare me when they gush for the amount of time that they do. Should I take her to a doctor. We live in the high desert-mojave-of southern calif. It is very dry, no humidity at all. We use a swamp cooler which puts moisture in the air, but should i get a humidifier as well? Any help would be great. LANCASTER, CA


Nosebleeds, although common, are a frequent cause of confusion for parents. Many still treat them incorrectly by having the child lean back, pinching the bridge of their nose, putting ice on the bridge of their nose, or simply letting it bleed until it stops on its own. With any or all of these steps, it is not uncommon for a nosebleed to last for 45 minutes or longer.

With the next nosebleed, you will likely have much better luck if you:

  • have your child lean forward (if she leans back she may swallow the blood and cough or choke)
  • squeeze the tip or soft part of your child's nose, just below the bony part, so that her nostrils are closed. You can do this with your fingers, tissue, or a washcloth, and this will allow the blood to pool in her nose and help it clot quicker. It will also prevent it from 'gushing' out.
  • continue to squeeze her nose for five or ten minutes and try to avoid frequently checking to see if it is still bleeding. After five or ten minutes, when you finally do release the pressure on her nose, if it is still bleeding, then hold it for another five or ten minutes.
  • call your Pediatrician if it continues to bleed after several cycles like this
While on the ice pack on the bridge of the nose trick doesn't work on its own, you can do it with the above steps and it may help the nosebleed stop sooner.

It is also important that after a nosebleed, you try and get her not to blow her nose.

If she blows the clot out of her nose, it will likely bleed again. By leaving the clot inside her nose, it gives the blood vessels inside her nose time to heal.

If her nose does continue to bleed though, some experts would recommend blowing out the clot and then spraying a topical decongestant spray, like Afrin, into her nose to help stop the bleeding.

Why is she having nosebleeds?

After you learn how to treat a nosebleed, you will then want to prevent them. Common causes can include uncontrolled allergies, dry, irritated mucous membranes in her nose, frequent nose picking, and bleeding disorders.

Since you mention dry air and don't mention other signs of a bleeding disorder, like easy bruising, bleeding gums, etc., the dry air may be the culprit. In addition to a humidifier, it may help to use a saline moisturizing nose spray and/or a nasal gel or vaseline on a regular basis to keep her nasal passages from getting dry and irritated.

Occasionally a blood vessel in the nose needs to be cauterized, so if she continues to have problems, in addition to seeing your Pediatrician, you might see a Pediatric ENT specialist for further evaluation.

Our Symptom Checker may also be able to help you figure out the underlying cause for her nosebleeds if you look for information about any other symptoms that she may be having.

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