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Why Does My Child Get Frequent Nosebleeds?

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Why Does My Child Get Frequent Nosebleeds?

Oct 03, 2022

There are many reasons children get bloody noses: allergies in the spring, summer and fall can contribute to a bloody nose, and so can the dryness of winter. As Cindy Gellner, MD, explains, it’s the frequent rubbing and blowing of the nose that can actually lead to the bleeding. She tells parents how to treat a bloody nose at home and what to do if the bleeding doesn’t stop.

Episode Transcript

Anytime your child bleeds it can be scary for a parent. Noses bleed often and it can seem like a lot of blood is coming out for a very long time.

Causes for Nosebleeds

Nosebleeds are usually caused by dryness in the nose and the normal rubbing and picking that all kids do when their noses are blocked or itchy. Some kids really blow their nose hard and that can also cause bleeding. Children who have nasal allergies, which we see a lot in the spring, summer, and fall, are also more likely to have nosebleeds because they rub their noses and blow them more often. Being hit in the nose and other injuries may also cause nosebleeds, but usually there are other symptoms that go along with that too. Nosebleeds are extremely common throughout childhood and there is a good chance that your child will have several as they grow up.

How to Stop The Bleeding

So how can you stop the bleeding? You should be able to stop it at home within 20 minutes. To do this, have your child sit up, lean forward, and if they've had any blood run down their throat from the back of their nose, spit it out. Swallowed blood is irritating to the stomach so don't be surprised if your child vomits it up. Have your child blow his nose once to remove any large clots. Then gently pinch the soft part of the lower nose between your thumb and forefinger for 10 minutes. If your child is old enough, teach him how and where to hold his nose.

Have your child breathe through his mouth. Don't release the pressure until 10 minutes are up. You want to make sure to give it enough time to stop on its own. If the bleeding continues, you may not be pressing on the right spot. You can also insert gauze covered with Vaseline into the nostril and squeeze the nose closed again for another 10 minutes. Leave the gauze in for another 10 minutes before you remove it after you've stopped squeezing the nose. If the bleeding continues and it's been more than 20 minutes, call your pediatrician, but continue the pressure in the meantime.

Mistakes Treating Nosebleeds

A few common mistakes in treating nosebleeds are putting a cold wash on the forehead, bridge of the nose, back of the neck or under the upper lip. That doesn't help stop nosebleeds at all. Also, pressing on the bony part of your nose doesn't help stop nosebleeds because you're not pressing on where the blood is coming from.

Nosebleed Prevention

So how can you prevent your child from having so many nosebleeds? You can use a small amount of that Vaseline and put it twice a day to the center wall of the inside of the nose, called the septum. Use a cotton swab rather than a finger to do this. That often helps heal the dryness on the inside of the nose. Increasing the humidity in the room that your child sleeps in by using a humidifier also helps. You should use nasal saline to moisturize the noise and wash away any irritants and pollens and do this every day. If your child has nasal allergies, treating those allergies with antihistamines will also help break the itch-bleeding cycle. And never allow anyone to smoke around your child.

So when should you be worried about your child's nosebleeds? Mainly, you should be worried if the bleeding does not stop after 30 minutes of direct pressure on the nose, they happen more than four times a week but despite doing the preventive measures or they lose so much blood they're feeling dizzy. Remember, nosebleeds may look scary, but often the cause isn't.

updated: October 3, 2022
originally published: August 10, 2015