Stopping Nosebleeds and Keeping Them from Coming Back

Pediatric First Aid Basics

Mother tending to her son's nosebleed
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Nosebleeds, although common, are a frequent cause of confusion for parents.

They can also be kind of scary, especially if your child wakes up with blood on their pillow or has a nosebleed that you just can't stop.

One of the problems is that many parents still treat nosebleeds incorrectly, using old-fashioned and outdated advice. This might include 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.

Stopping a Nosebleed

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

  1. have your child lean forward (if she leans back she may swallow the blood and cough or choke)
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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 encourage your child to not 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.

    Keep in mind that you might expect your child to have additional nosebleeds in the hours and days after having a nosebleed, even after minimal trauma or after not doing anything at all. Just like any other kind of injury, like a scrape or cut on your arm, it takes time for the blood vessels in your child's nose to heal. Right after a nosebleed, they may quickly bleed again after a sneeze, when your child rubs his nose, or simply turns over on his pillow. Encourage your child to leave his nose alone to allow it to heal.

    Why Do Kids Have 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, sinus infections, trauma, and frequent nose picking.

    Much more rarely, bleeding disorders or high blood pressure could cause frequent nose bleeds.

    If dry air is 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 your child's nasal passages from getting dry and irritated.

    While treating allergies should help, do keep in mind that a bloody nose can be an uncommon side effect of using nasal steroids.

    And even if your child denies picking his nose, keeping his nails cut short might be helpful if he is having frequent nosebleeds - just in case.

    Occasionally a blood vessel in the nose needs to be cauterized using silver nitrate cautery, so if your child continues to have problems, in addition to seeing your pediatrician, you might see a Pediatric ENT specialist for further evaluation.

    What To Know About Nosebleeds

    It is very common for children to get nosebleeds and they very often do not have a serious cause. Teach your kids how to stop the bleeding by pinching the tip of their nose and work to control any of the factors that might be triggering the bleeds, like allergies or nose picking.

    Calder, Nicholas. A double-blind randomized controlled trial of management of recurrent nosebleeds in children. Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery, Volume 140, Issue 5, May 2009, Pages 670-674.

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