When Your Child Has Nosebleeds - University of Minnesota Children's Hospital
 
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When Your Child Has Nosebleeds

Children often have nosebleeds. They are usually not a sign of a serious problem. You can treat most nosebleeds at home. And you can take steps to help your child prevent them. 

What Causes Nosebleeds? Side view of child's face showing inside of nose, mouth, and throat. Nosebleeds often start in front part of nose.

The skin inside your child’s nose is very delicate. It is filled with many tiny blood vessels. That’s why even a small injury can bleed a lot. The most common causes of nosebleeds in children are:

  • Nose picking

  • Dryness inside the nose

  • Allergies

  • Certain medications (such as nasal sprays)

  • Injury to the nose

  • Nasal impetigo (sores inside the nose caused by a certain kind of infection)

How Are Nosebleeds Treated?

Nosebleeds are easy to treat at home. With proper treatment, most nosebleeds will stop in less than 5 minutes. Keep this list of Do’s and Don’ts in mind:

DO

Girl tilting head back and pinching tip of nose. Circle and slash on top indicate don't do this. Girl leaning forward and pinching tip of nose. Check mark indicates do this.

  • Have your child tilt his or her head slightly forward (NOT backward). This keeps blood from pooling at the back of the throat, where it may be swallowed.

  • Use a finger or small wad of tissue to firmly press against the nostrils (or the nostril that is bleeding). Press close to the opening of the nostril, NOT up by the bridge of the nose. Press firmly enough to close off the nostril.

  • Let your child sit down if he or she wants, but don’t let him or her lie down during a nosebleed.

  • Your child may wish to take it easy for the rest of the day after a nosebleed.

DON’T

  • Don’t have your child place his or her head between the knees. This is not needed, and may even worsen the nosebleed.

  • Don’t give your child a pain reliever (if one is needed, call your healthcare provider).

  • Don’t apply ice.

  • Don’t let your child lie down during the nosebleed.

If Nosebleeds Happen Often

Most nosebleeds are not a medical emergency. But if your child is having frequent nosebleeds, take him or her to see a healthcare provider. Your child may need a saline (special salt water) nasal spray to moisten the inside of the nose. In some cases, it may be necessary to perform a quick procedure to keep the vessels from bleeding. 

How Are Nosebleeds Prevented?

To help prevent nosebleeds in your child:

  • Apply petroleum jelly to the inside of your child’s nose before bedtime.

  • Try to keep your child from picking his or her nose. 

  • Turn down the house thermostat so air is not as dry and hot.

  • If needed, add moisture to the air in your child's room using a humidifier. Be sure to use fresh water daily, and clean the filter frequently to prevent bacterial growth in the humidifier.  

  • Treat your child’s allergies, if needed.

Call your child’s healthcare provider right away if your child has any of the following:

  • Nose that is still bleeding after 15 minutes of treatment listed above

  • Very heavy bleeding, with large clots visible 

  • Daily nosebleeds that continue for 3 days

  • Bruising on the abdomen, backs of thighs, or buttocks (fleshy places that don’t normally bruise)

  • Small, flat purple spots (called petechiae) anywhere on your child’s body

  • Pale skin or weakness anywhere in the body

  • Bleeding from a second area, such as the gums

  • Blood in the stool

 

 
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