KidsMD Health Topics


  • Overview

    Nosebleeds can be a scary occurrence, but are usually not dangerous. The medical term for nosebleed is epistaxis. They are fairly common in children, especially in dry climates or during the winter months when dry heat inside homes and buildings can cause drying inside the nose. Many times, children outgrow the tendency for nosebleeds during their teenage years.

    The front part of the nose contains many fragile blood vessels that can be damaged easily. Most nosebleeds in children occur in the front part of the nose close to the nostrils.

    Boston Children's Hospital 
    300 Longwood Avenue
    Boston MA 02115

  • In-Depth

    What causes a nosebleed?

    Nosebleeds are caused by many factors, but some of the most common causes include the following:

    • picking the nose
    • blowing the nose too hard
    • injury to the nose
    • over-dry air
    • colds and allergies
    • foreign body in the nose

    Often, no apparent cause for a nosebleed can be found.

    First-aid for nosebleeds

    • Calm your child and let her know you can help.
    • Pinch the nostrils together for 5 to 10 minutes without checking to see if bleeding has stopped.
    • Have your child sit up and lean forward to avoid swallowing blood.
    • Apply ice or a cold-water compress to the bridge of the nose.
    • If bleeding doesn’t stop, try the above steps one more time.
    • Don’t pack your child's nose with tissues or gauze.

    When should I call my child's physician?

    Specific treatment for nosebleeds, that require more than minor treatment at home, will be determined by your child's physician. In general, call your child's physician for nosebleeds if:

    • you are unable to stop the nosebleed or if it recurs
    • your child also has a nose injury that may indicate a more serious problem (such as a fractured nose or other trauma to the head)
    • there is a large amount or rapid loss of blood
    • your child feels faint, weak, ill or has trouble breathing
    • your child has bleeding from other parts of the body (such as in the stool, urine or gums) or bruises easily
    • there is a foreign body stuck in your child's nose

    Preventing nosebleeds

    If your child has frequent nosebleeds, some general guidelines to help prevent nosebleeds from occurring include the following:

    • Use a cool mist humidifier in your child's room at night if the air in your home is dry. Be sure to follow the manufacturer's advice for cleaning the humidifier so that germs and mold don’t grow in it.
    • Teach your child not to pick his nose or blow it too forcefully.
    • Apply petroleum jelly inside the nostrils several times a day, especially at bedtime, to help keep the area moist.
    • Use saline (salt water) drops or a saline nose spray, as directed by your child's physician.
    • See your child's physician for treatment of allergies that may contribute to frequent nosebleeds.
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