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Nose bleeds

Nose; bleed; nosebleed; epistaxis; first; aid; blood; ;

Bleeding from the nose is common in children and is usually not severe. It usually stops with first aid treatment.

Contents

Alert!
If bleeding is very heavy or does not stop with simple measures you need to take your child to a doctor or hospital emergency department.

 

What is a nose bleed?

  • The blood vessels on the septum (the firm tissue which divides the nose) can break fairly easily and bleed.
  • The most common area for a nose bleed is near the front of the nose, but occasionally the bleeding comes from the back, near the throat.

What causes a nose bleed? 

  • An infection of the lining of the nose, or sinusitis or infected adenoids can all make nose bleeds more common.
  • An allergy which causes hayfever or sneezing can be the cause.
  • Some people have blood vessels in the nose that bleed easily, perhaps in warm dry air, or after exercise.
  • Bumps or falls on the nose are an obvious cause.
  • Sometimes something has been pushed up the nose, and damaged the blood vessels.
  • Picking the nose, especially after one bleed can keep the problem going.
  • In rare cases there is a bleeding or clotting problem.
  • Adolescent girls may get more nosebleeds around the time they start having periods.

What you can do

Simple first aid usually helps.

  • Sit the child up. Some children feel more comfortable leaning forward a little, others leaning back... do what seems best for your child.
  • Squeeze the soft part of the nose, just above the nostrils, firmly together with your finger and thumb (or the child can do this if she is old enough). Hold this for 10 minutes. Reassure your child and encourage her to breathe through her mouth while this is happening.
  • A cold cloth or cold pack over the forehead or the bridge (top part) of the nose sometimes helps.
  • If the bleeding does not stop or if it is very heavy take your child to a doctor.
  • Reassure the child, because crying can bring more blood to the face and make the bleeding worse.
  • Ask your child not to blow his nose for about half an hour after the nose bleed to help the clot become strong.
  • If the child just has one nose bleed, or maybe a couple on one day, and then no more, probably nothing further needs to be done, but if the nose bleeds go on happening, the cause for the bleeding needs to be found and treated.

What to do if your child keeps having nose bleeds.

  • If your child keeps having nose bleeds, even if the nose bleeds are not very bad, you should have a check with a doctor.
  • Bleeding that happens a lot can be treated by cautery (sealing off) of the problem blood vessels. This blocks them so they no longer break open.
  • If infection is the problem your doctor may prescribe an antibiotic ointment or medicine.
  • Very occasionally a child loses so much blood that it causes other health problems (anaemia). This will need treatment.
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The information on this site should not be used as an alternative to professional care. If you have a particular problem, see a doctor, or ring the Parent Helpline on 1300 364 100 (local call cost from anywhere in South Australia).

This topic may use 'he' and 'she' in turn - please change to suit your child's sex.

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