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Nose Bleed: What to do

Updated: Oct 25, 2023

Why Is My Nose Bleeding?

A nosebleed can be caused by a number of factors. The most prevalent reason is dry air, which can be caused by either having the heat on in the winter or living in a hot, low-humidity region.

Other factors include:

  • Picking your nose

  • Blowing your nose too hard often

  • Injuries caused by a fall or getting hit in your nose

  • Side effects of medication, like blood thinners

  • Allergies

  • High altitudes, where the air is thin

How Do I Stop My Nosebleed?

Nosebleeds are typically not serious. Most conditions may be treated at home by performing the following:

  • Stay calm. If you start to get nervous, it can actually make you bleed more. Try to relax.

  • Sit up, don’t lie down. Keep your head above your heart.

  • Lean a little bit forward. This keeps the blood from draining down the back of your throat.

  • Pinch your nostrils closed. Use your thumb and index finger to hold your nostrils closed for 5 to 10 minutes while you breathe through your mouth. This puts pressure on the part of your nose that’s bleeding and can make the blood stop flowing.

Once the bleeding has stopped, do not touch or blow your nose.

This may start it bleeding again. But if it does restart, gently blow your nose to get rid of any blood clots.

You can also spray a decongestant such as oxymetazoline (Afrin, Mucinex, or Vicks Sinex) in both nostrils.

Then pinch your nostrils shut and breathe through your mouth for 5 to 10 minutes. Call your doctor if:

  • You fell or hit your nose on something

  • You get nosebleeds often

  • Your nosebleed lasts longer than 20 minutes even after you put pressure on it

  • There’s so much bleeding that it’s hard to breathe.

  • You’re taking blood thinners, such as warfarin (Coumadin), dabigatran (Pradaxa), rivaroxaban (Xarelto), fondaparinux sodium (Arixtra), or aspirin, or you have a bleeding disorder.

If your doctor can’t get your nosebleed to stop with pressure, they might try: Cauterization.

This procedure burns a blood vessel closed.

After your doctor numbs your nose, they’ll use either a heated electronic device (an electrocautery) or a chemical called silver nitrate to close the leaky blood vessel. Packing.

Your doctor puts a latex balloon or gauze into your nostril.

This puts a lot of pressure on a blood vessel until it closes.

How to Prevent Nosebleeds

You can’t always prevent nosebleeds from happening, but there are certain things you can do to help lower your chances of getting them:

  • Keep the inside of your nose moist. Nosebleeds can be caused by dryness. Apply a small layer of petroleum jelly to your nose using a cotton swab three times a day, particularly before going to bed. Bacitracin or Polysporin antibiotic ointment can also be used.

  • Use a saline nasal product. Spraying it in your nostrils helps keep the inside of your nose moist.

  • Use a humidifier. Your nostrils might be dry because the air in your house is dry.

  • Don’t smoke. Smoking can irritate the inside of your nose and dry it out.

  • Don’t pick your nose. Also, don't rub or blow on it too hard. Keep your child's fingernails short and prevent them from picking their nose if they experience nosebleeds.

  • Use cold and allergy drugs sparingly. These can cause nasal dryness. Certain drugs might induce or worsen nosebleeds in some circumstances. You should talk to your doctor about your drugs. But continue to take them unless your doctor instructs you to stop.

American Academy of Otolaryngology: “Nosebleeds.”
American Academy of Family Physicians: “Nosebleeds.”
Cleveland Clinic: “Nosebleed (Epistaxis).”
Seattle Children's Hospital: "Nosebleed."
Family Doctor: "Nosebleeds."
American Family Physician: "Information From Your Family Doctor: Nosebleeds."
Nosebleeds Information from eMedicineHealth.

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