Stop a Nosebleed

Nosebleed. Mauro Fermariello/Science Photo Library/Getty Images

While nosebleeds (epistaxis) can be scary, especially for children, they are quite common and are rarely dangerous. Nosebleeds are commonly caused by trauma to the head or face, or dry nasal passageways. Allergies or a recent cold are also common causes of nosebleeds. However, there are many possible causes of nosebleeds which should be looked into if bloody noses occur frequently or fail to resolve with the following tips.

Here are some steps to take to help stop a simple nosebleed at home should they occur.

How to Stop a Nosebleed

  1. If it is available, use tissue or cloth to catch the blood.
  2. Sit or stand. The belief that you should lie down with your held tilted back is a myth and can lead to some complications.
  3. Gently pinch your nostrils together (below and to the side of the bony part of your nose) as you lean and tilt your head forward. Keep pressure for a full 10 minutes. Avoid the temptation to check to see if the bleeding has stopped, as this can cause the bleeding to reoccur.
  4. Applying a cold compress or ice wrapped in cloth across the bridge of your nose may also help.
  5. If bleeding still occurs after 10 minutes, repeat step 3. If bleeding still occurs after another 10 minutes (20 minutes total), see a physician.
  6. Avoid heavy lifting, blowing or picking your nose, or other activities that involve straining to prevent recurrence of the nosebleed for up to 24 hours after the nosebleed has stopped. Seek professional consultation if you have severe or recurrent nosebleeds, if you are taking medicines to thin the blood or block clotting or if you have a condition that puts you at a higher risk for serious bleeds of any kind (hemophilia and certain cancers for instance)


    1. DO NOT blow your nose, as this may cause additional nosebleeds to start.
    2. DO NOT pack your nose with gauze or cotton balls (although nasal packing may be performed by a medical professional).
    3. DO NOT lay down flat as the blood may run down the back of your throat and you may accidentally swallow it (this usually results in nausea and vomiting).
    1. Hydrogen peroxide can help remove blood from clothing.
    2. If you are unable to staunch the bleeding and you feel that the amount of blood is excessive, please go to your local emergency room or call 911 immediately.

    When Does a Nosebleed Become an Emergency?

    Bleeds that do not respond to compression as instructed above require immediate emergency attention. You should also call 911 or go to the emergency room at any time you feel that you may be in danger of losing too much blood. Keep in mind that a tablespoon of blood on your tee shirt may look like much more than it actually is. However, if you are gushing blood, or feel that the amount is too much at any time you should get emergency medical treatment. Symptoms of excessive blood loss may include: fatigue, white or very pale skin, feeling dizzy, lightheaded or confused, chest pain or a rapid heartbeat.

    Another reason a bloody nose may be a medical emergency is if you suspect it may have been caused by high blood pressure, in this case the bloody nose may be accompanied by a severe headache or confusion.

    You should also seek emergency medical care if you have been involved in an accident and may have head, or neck trauma involving your spine. If possible remain as still as you can and have someone else call 911.

    Preventing Nosebleeds

    You can prevent nosebleeds by wearing appropriate safety equipment when participating in sports (helmets), and by keeping the lining of the nasal passageways moist. This is best accomplished by drinking plenty of fluids, using a cool mist humidifier or saline nasal spray, or using a small amount of petroleum jelly. You can also avoid nosebleeds by not picking the nose and not smoking.


    American Academy of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery. Accessed: February 27, 2016 from

    Medline Plus. Nosebleed. Accessed: February 27, 2016 from

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