Heather J. Gomes, M.D.
Boys Town Ear, Nose & Throat Institute
Nosebleeds are quite common in children ages 2 to 10 years. While some children have the occasional bloody nose, others battle with chronic nosebleeds. No matter your situation, understanding why a nosebleed occurs and what to do when it happens can help ease the stress during the next occurrence.
Why does my child get nosebleeds?
Nosebleeds occur when tissue lining inside the nose breaks and blood is released. The small blood vessels in a child’s nose can rupture easily. It is important to understand the type of nosebleed. There are two types with two different treatment methods.
- Anterior nosebleeds are the most common type. Blood will flow directly out of the nostrils. Anterior nosebleeds can be stopped by sitting upright to ensure the head is higher than the heart.
- Posterior nosebleeds are less common and typically occur in elderly people or after a blunt trauma to the nose. The bleed occurs higher and deeper in the nose, causing blood to flow down the throat. Posterior nosebleeds usually require medical attention.
Stopping a nosebleed
Once a parent notices a nosebleed and it is determined to be an anterior bleed, Boys Town Ear, Nose & Throat Institute recommends the following:
- Step 1 – Have your child sit up in a chair and tip his head slightly forward.
- Step 2 – With tissue in hand, pinch the soft part of the nose shut between your thumb and forefinger.
- Step 3 – Apply steady pressure and firm grip to the nose for 10 minutes.
- Step 4 –If the bleed continues for more than 3-4 attempts, seek additional medical support.
Remember to not stuff tissues or cotton balls into the nose to stop the bleeding. This could cause the blood to run down the back of the throat or could cause the object to become lodged in the nose.
Preventing a Nosebleed
Even when taking proper precaution, children can still get the occasional nosebleed. Boys Town Ear, Nose & Throat Institute has the following recommendations to prevent nosebleeds:
- Watch for nose picking, as long nails can scratch the nasal passageway
- Add humidity to the home with a cool-mist humidifier during dry months
- Limit the amount of anti-inflammatory, allergy and cold medication given to the child
- Monitor the nostrils for dryness and add petroleum jelly to the nostril opening if skin is cracked
- Eliminate second hand smoke exposure
When to See a Physician
If your child’s nose bleeds several times a week, contact your physician. A physician can examine your child’s nose to determine the severity of the situation and provide alternative options to manage the bleeds. If your child’s nose is bleeding due to a blunt trauma accident directly to the nose, seek medical attention immediately.