Learn what to do when your child has a nosebleed. Although bloody noses can be messy, it's easy to staunch the flow with pressure and patience.
How to Stop a Nosebleed
Nosebleeds are very common in children. They can result when a child picks his nose a little too aggressively, gets bonked during some rough play, or sometimes they can appear out of nowhere.
Kids are more likely to get bloody noses if they have a cold, since the mucous membrane lining inside the nose becomes swollen and tender, and blood vessels can break easily. The bleeding usually comes from a little blood vessel on the septum, the wall between the nostrils, at the very front of the nose.
Although it may look like a lot of blood, almost all nosebleeds will stop on their own within five minutes, and it is usually not necessary to seek medical attention.
Treatment for Nosebleeds
- Have the child sit up with his head bent slightly forward. Let the blood run out of the nose and down into a tissue or cold washcloth.
- Ask the child to spit any blood out of his mouth. Do not let him swallow the blood because it can irritate the stomach and cause vomiting.
- Using your thumb and index finger, pinch the soft part of the child's nose just below the nasal bone. (Older children may be able to do this themselves.) Hold this grip for at least 10 minutes without letting go (no peeking!). The child will have to breathe through his mouth.
- If the bleeding doesn't stop after 10 minutes, settle in for 10 more minutes of pressing.
- Once the bleeding stops, have the child avoid strenuous activity or picking/blowing his nose for the next 24 hours.
Call your doctor immediately if the child:
- Has frequent nosebleeds.
- Bruises easily and bleeds a lot from minor wounds.
- Continues to bleed after two attempts to stop the bleeding.
- Has been bleeding for more than 15 minutes.
- Is dizzy, pale, and doesn't look right to you.
- Has a foreign object in the nose.
- Had a head injury or a fall that caused the nosebleed.
- Has a nosebleed just after taking a new medicine (some medicines can cause an increased likelihood of bleeding).
How to Prevent Nosebleeds
- Avoid having overly dry air in the child's bedroom because it dries out the mucous membrane inside the tip of the nose. Use a humidifier or vaporizer.
- In very dry weather, use nasal saline drops or spray to keep the nose moist. At bedtime, place a small amount of petroleum jelly on either side of the nasal septum with a cotton swab.
- Teach the child not to pick his nose and keep his fingernails short.
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