Your Child’s Nose is Bleeding: What To Do Right Now?

Fortunately, the anterior position of most bleeding in the nose also means that most nose bleeds in children can be easily controlled.

When faced with your child’s bleeding nose, do the following:

  • Take a deep breath – even though it seems like a lot of blood, you can get it to stop
  • Try to relax – our children take their cues from us, and if you are agitated your child will be also
  • So, calmly reassure your child
  • Simply squeezing the lower soft portion of the nose – below the nasal bones – for 5 full minutes, will control 90% of nose bleeds. Not painfully squeeze, just firm, gentle pressure. No cheating. Do not take your hand away to look to see if it has stopped bleeding. Every time you do that, start over again! It may take as long as 10-20 minutes! That’s a long time to have someone squeezing your nose; hang in there; reassure your child!
  • Have your child breathe through the mouth
  • Medical:
    • Allopathic: Spray Oxymetazoline (0.025%), a nasal decongestant spray – it constricts the blood vessels and can help stop the nose bleed; a couple puffs in the side that is bleeding, twice per day, for a maximum of 4 days
    • Naturopathic: Similar to Oxymetazoline, Witch Hazel (Hamamelis virginiana) on a piece of cotton can help constrict blood vessels and help stop nose bleeds – this can burn or sting, and may not be tolerated by children
  • Surgical: if bad enough, epistaxis will require cautery of the involved blood vessels. In my practice this means cautery under brief general anesthetic – I wouldn’t traumatize my own kids by cauterizing their noses in clinic while they are awake, so I don’t subject your children to it either. The “surgery” (cautery) is simple, and the anesthetic is brief, perhaps 15-20 minutes.

There are some pretty goofy “wives tales” you might hear about for how to stop a nose bleed – don’t bother to do these:

  • Don’t put the head between the knees – this simply increases the blood pressure in the head, actually making it harder to stop the bleeding
  • Don’t put a cold (or hot, or whatever) wash cloth over the back of the neck, unless for some other reason. It won’t change the nose bleed (might feel kinda nice though)
  • Don’t place a key on the back of the neck (no idea where this one came from)

Best health and success to you and your families.

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Until next time, remember … you can pick your friends, and you can pick your nose, but you can’t pick your friend’s nose (unless you’re a boogor doctor ;~D)

Next time: How to Reduce Your Child’s Nose Bleeds.

Nose bleeds – Epistaxis: How to Stop It, How to Prevent It, When to See the Doc

Part 1 – Anatomy of Nose Bleeds:  http://wp.me/pR4iB-S

Part 2 – Nose Bleeds: What To Do? http://wp.me/pR4iB-W

Part 3 – 8 Things You Can Do To Reduce Your Child’s Nose Bleeds: http://wp.me/pR4iB-10

Part 4 – 8 Reasons To See a Physician For Your Child’s Nose Bleeds: http://wp.me/pR4iB-19

Comments

  1. We used to stop our nose bleeds by pressing (usually ice cube wrapped in washcloth, but sometimes just side of finger) either in sulcus between upper teeth and upper lip, (pushing up against the nose) or pressing where the upper lip area meets the bottom of the nose by the nostrils. Seems to work better than just pinching your nose shut.

    • Russell A. Faust, PhD, MD says:

      Lani, Thank you for your comment. You make an excellent point, allowing me to pontificate some more (a weakness of mine): There are at least 3 main blood vessels that supply the anterior nasal septum. They converge on the “Little’s Area” in the figure that accompanies this post. One of those vessels comes off of the facial artery, across the upper lip, and up into the nose at the front of the septum. If that vessel is the source of bleeding, then what you describe can be very successful in stopping the bleeding: ice and pressure on or under the upper lip near the front of the nose. On the other hand, if one of the other vessels is the main source of bleeding, this trick won’t help. The advantage of simply squeezing (the nose to apply pressure to the front part of the nasal septum) is that it will work for any of the vessels that supply this area.
      Thanks for visiting and for your comment.

  2. My 3 year old gets frequent bloody noses and does not let me pinch his nose. He fights me which I think makes the nose bleed worse. He also swallows the blood which upsets his stomach. I try to tilt head forward and again he fights me. Any other ideas I can try.

    • Russell A. Faust, PhD, MD says:

      The ages of 2-4 years can be the most challenging for managing nose-bleeds and other sinus / nasal issues … it’s a bit like dealing with a wild chimpanzee :)
      I don’t have great insights, except to say this: if you are not able to control the nose-bleeds, you should consider taking your child to an ENT doc – it may even be necessary to put him under a brief general anesthetic in order to perform a thorough exam of his nose and treat the source of bleeding if necessary.
      Thanks so much for visiting and sharing. Please keep me updated on how you manage.

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