How to Stop a Bloody Nose the Right Way

The Right Way

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Bloody noses (epistaxis) are uncomfortable and scary-looking, but usually not dangerous. Kids get nosebleeds more often than adults, typically either from irritating the nasal membrane (picking their noses) or from trauma (like a soccer ball in the face). When adults get nosebleeds, it could be an indicator of a more severe medical problem. Be sure to tell your doctor if you have gotten bloody noses, especially without physical trauma.

There are just two steps to properly treat a nosebleed:

  1. Lean Forward, Not Back
  2. Pinch the Nose (there are some tips to do this right)

Lean Forward, Not Back

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Don't try to protect a favorite shirt by leaning back. Momma might've told you to lean your head back when you got a bloody nose, but she had an ulterior motive: she didn't want to ruin your soccer jersey.

Lean forward, not back. The blood needs to go somewhere and if the patient leans back, it will most likely go down the throat. Blood could get in the windpipe causing a blocked airway or go into the stomach. Blood in the gut may irritate the stomach lining and cause the patient to vomit suddenly, which will likely do more damage to the shirt than a few drops of blood.

It's probably not about saving the shirt as much as the fact that we don't like the sight of blood. We lean back to hide the bleeding more than anything else.

Pinch the Nose (Correctly)


Pinch the patient's nose just below the bony bridge. Don't just pinch the nostrils closed. Your fingers should be on the bone as well as the soft tissue. If there is still blood flowing, adjust your grip. There should not be visible bleeding while you are holding the nose.

Be Patient With Your Patient (this might take a while)

Blood vessels that supply the nasal membrane can be pinched against the bony bridge (the hard part) to stop or at least slow blood flow and create a clot. Hold the nose for at least 5 minutes.

Do not let go to check bleeding until the 5 minutes is up.

After 5 minutes (and not before), release the pressure to see if the bleeding has stopped. If not, pinch for 10 minutes this time. Remember: don't let go to check bleeding until the 10 minutes is up. Repeat for another 10 minutes if necessary.

Placing ice or a chemical cold pack over the bridge of the nose can constrict the blood vessels and help stop bleeding. Use this in addition to pressure.

After the bleeding is controlled, do not let the victim blow his or her nose. Blowing the nose will release the clots and encourage bleeding to start again.

If a nosebleed doesn't stop after the second or third try, it's time to see a doctor. If at any time, the patient feels lightheaded, dizzy, or weak, call 911. If left uncontrolled, bloody noses can lead to shock.

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