Most people have experienced a bloody nose. This time of year they are particularly common with allergy season. The nose gets irritated and easily bleeds from the picking and rubbing that ensues. Bloody noses are particularly common in Utah where the air is so dry.

There is a surprising amount of misinformation out there on how to handle bloody noses. Here are the quick facts:

How to stop a bloody nose:

  1. Firmly pinch the end of the nose, so the nose is completely closed. The idea is to apply pressure to the area that is bleeding so the body can make a clot. Pinching the bridge of the nose is just an old wives tale. (That would be like applying pressure in your armpit to get a cut on the forearm to stop bleeding. It’s better to apply the pressure to the cut itself).
  2. Sit straight up or slightly forward. You do not want the blood to drain down the throat. Better to spit out any blood than to swallow it. Blood in the stomach is nauseating. The last thing you need is vomiting to compound the situation.
  3. If the bleeding is profuse and won’t stop, apply something cold to the nose (just above where you are holding it closed). This will constrict the blood vessels and help slow the bleeding. An ice pack or bag of frozen peas works beautifully.
  4. Hold the nose firmly for a long time. When you stop holding your nose (to check to see if the bleeding stopped), and discover you’re still bleeding, then hold your nose twice as long the next time before checking again. For example, if you held your nose for 5 minutes but it continues to bleed, then hold it 10 minutes the next time before checking again.
  5. Don’t shove anything up the nose to create the clot (like a wad of toilet paper). Yes, it will act like a dam and temporarily stop it, but when you pull it out, you will likely pull out the clot and the nose will start bleeding again.
  6. Don’t blow the nose right after having had a bloody nose. Blowing will also disrupt the clot and start the bleeding again.

How to prevent a bloody nose:

  1. Don’t pick the nose. I know it sounds elementary, but nose picking is the number one reason kids get bloody noses.
  2. Run a humidifier in the room at night. Dried out nasal passages bleed easily.
  3. Treat nasal allergies.
  4. Lastly, apply a large glob of Vaseline with a Q-tip to the inside of the nose (just barely up the nose all around and on that first fleshy bump). I know it sounds disgusting, but it really works, especially if your child is having recurrent bloody noses out of the same side. Usually, there is a friable blood vessel that just needs a little TLC to get it to heal up.

The next time you or your child experiences a bloody nose, you’ll be able to handle it like an expert. Good luck!

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About The Author

Dr. Monica Wonnacott

I'm a pediatrician and a mom. I've been doing this doctor thing for 10 years, and love it. I'm known for giving parents the straight scoop without always sugar-coating it. And I believe in educating parents. The more you know, the better care you give your kids.

Dr. Monica Wonnacott, Pediatric Answers ™

I'm a pediatrician and a mom. Pediatric AnswersTM is where parents can get the straight scoop on their child's health, largely based on my experience in the office and at home. I don't diagnose on the site, so please don't ask. These are just my opinions. Use this site as a resource. And trust your parent gut.

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