At some point during childhood, almost every kid will have a nosebleed. Despite the fact that nosebleeds are so common, many parents are unsure about the best way to stop a nosebleed. Here are some tips about caring for nosebleeds – and when it’s time to get your pediatrician involved.
Pinch, don't panic. Pinch both nostrils shut right below the bony part of the nose (on the soft cartilage part of the nose), applying steady pressure for at least five minutes. Avoid checking to see if bleeding has stopped during that time. Have your child breathe through the mouth and avoid talking, laughing or crying. If the bleeding hasn’t stopped after five minutes of continuous pressure, pinch the nostrils shut for another five minutes. If your child has an injury to the face, something stuck in the nose, trouble breathing or the bleeding hasn’t stopped after 10 minutes, seek medical attention.
Lean in, not back. Have your child either sit or stand, and tilt the head forward slightly. This helps to prevent the blood from going down the back of the throat, which can cause gagging or vomiting. If your child has blood in their mouth encourage the child to spit it out instead of swallowing it.
No stuffing. Do not stuff the nose with cotton or tissue, which could stick to the blood clot and reopen the wound when the material is removed.
Cool down. Apply a cool, wet or ice-filled cloth on the bridge of the nose and cheeks. This can help slow bleeding as well as swelling that may have been caused by an injury.
Bloody noses can be scary. There are hundreds of tiny, fragile blood vessels in the lining of the nose. It doesn’t take much to cause them to bleed. Sometimes, it can seem like a lot of blood, especially to a child. Keep reassuring your child that they will be OK.
Too many nosebleeds?
If your child has more than one bloody nose a week, it may be time to see your pediatrician or a pediatric ENT (ear, nose and throat specialist). They can advise you on additional steps to take or procedures that can reduce the frequency or severity of bloody noses.
Many nosebleeds are caused simply by nose picking. Low humidity, upper respiratory infections and allergies can all make the nose more sensitive to injury. Applying saline gel or Vaseline ointment, and/or using a humidifier at night to moisturize nasal tissues can help prevent nosebleeds – but the best advice is to tell kids to keep their fingers (and toys) out of their nose.
Jonathan Grischkan, MD, is a member of the Department of Otolaryngology at Nationwide Children’s Hospital and is an assistant professor of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery at The Ohio State University College of Medicine. Dr. Grischkan’s clinical and research interests primarily focus on problems relating to cleft lip and palate, vascular lesions, craniofacial disorders, mandibular hypoplasia, airway obstruction, sleep apnea and all aspects of pediatric otolaryngology and facial reconstructive surgery.
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