More than half of people experience a nosebleed at some point in their lifetime.
And, while only 10% of all nosebleeds are serious, it is important that you know how to handle the situation if your child experiences one.
Most common in children between the ages of two and 10, as well as the elderly, nosebleeds can be startling when they occur.
We’re breaking down everything you need to know about nosebleeds and how to respond when your child has one.
What Causes a Nosebleed?
There are several things that can cause your child to have a nosebleed.
Dry air is a common culprit. When air becomes too dry, either indoors or outdoors, it can irritate and dehydrate the nasal membranes, resulting in a bloody nose.
If your child scratches or picks at their nose, it can irritate the inside of the nasal passage, exposing blood vessels that are more likely to bleed.
Any time your child has a cold, allergies or sinus infection, he or she is more prone to getting a nosebleed due to irritation.
Bacterial infections can also cause the inside your child’s nose to become sore, red and crusted, which can lead to bleeding.
If your child injures his or her nose, it is also common for there to be bleeding, depending on the severity of the injury. If you notice the nose bleeding for more than 10 minutes, or are concerned about the injury, see a doctor as soon as possible.
Different Types of Nosebleeds
There are two kinds of nosebleeds: anterior and posterior.
The most common type of nosebleed, an anterior bleed, occurs when the tiny blood vessels inside the nose (aka capillaries) rupture.
A posterior nosebleed, on the other hand, happens deeper inside the nose. It is rare that this type of bleed occurs in children, unless it’s caused by an injury.
What if My Child has Recurring Nosebleeds?
Although some children may only experience one nosebleed in their lifetime, it is also possible for your child to get recurring nosebleeds.
This is more likely to happen when the lining inside the nose gets irritated, causing blood vessels to be exposed and bleed at the most minor triggers.
If your child has regular nosebleeds, it’s a good idea to keep the inside lining of the nose moisturized.
Spraying a nasal saline mist in the nostrils several times a day is great. You may also try putting Vaseline on a cotton swab and placing it inside the nostrils.
A vaporizer can also help by adding moisture to the air in your child’s room.
You should also keep your child’s nails well-manicured so he or she doesn’t irritate the nostrils.
How to Treat Nosebleeds
If your child has a nosebleed, it’s important that you stay calm. With so much blood, they typically look worse than they actually are, causing your child to panic.
Any time your child gets a nosebleed, have him or her sit own immediately and lean slightly forward. Keep their head above the heart to help slow the bleeding down.
Having your child lean forward will keep the blood draining out of the nose and down the back of their throat.
If your child leans back, they run the risk of swallowing the blood, which can cause irritation to the stomach.
Take your thumb and index finger and pinch the soft portion of the nose—holding until the bleeding stops.
It’s a good idea to hold your fingers for at least five minutes. If there is still bleeding, try to hold it again for up to 10 minutes.
After the bleeding stops, make sure your child avoids bending over or blowing their nose.
How to Prevent a Nosebleed in your Child
Although some nosebleeds are impossible to prevent, there are things you can do to minimize the risk of your child experiencing one.
Place a cool mist humidifier in your child’s bedroom to keep the air moist. You should regularly clean the humidifier to prevent germs and mold from growing in it.
Make sure your child knows that picking his or her nose can cause a nosebleed.
If your child’s nose appears to be dry (or the air in your home is especially dry), It’s a good idea to place petroleum jelly inside your child’s nose several times daily. This will keep the mucus membranes protected.
Your child’s doctor may recommend using saline nose drops or spray routinely to help moisten the nostrils too.
If your child suffers from allergies, let the pediatrician know. This could lead to recurring nosebleeds.
Finally, it’s important that you avoid smoking in your home or near your child.
When to See a Doctor for Your Child’s Nosebleed
Most nosebleeds do not require medical attention as they are typically short-lived and can be treated at home without the direction of a doctor.
If your child’s nose is bleeding for more than 10 minutes, or is caused by an injury, you should take them to see a doctor.
If the bleed is severe and your child loses a lot of blood, you should keep an eye on them to monitor for paleness, lethargy and dizziness.
It’s also a good idea to see a medical professional if your child gets nosebleeds often.
Your child’s doctor will want to identify where the bleeding is coming from.
In severe cases where the bleeding can’t be stopped, the doctor may need to cauterize the bleeding vessel.
The doctor may also consider packing the nose with gauze to keep the blood vessels constricted.
If your child needs to see a doctor, consider visiting Medical City Children’s Urgent Care.
With four locations throughout the DFW area, our kid-friendly clinics are open after hours and on the weekend—when your pediatrician’s office is closed.
Don’t forget you can use the Web Check-In® feature online before your visit so you don’t have to sit in the waiting room.
To find the Medical City Children’s Urgent Care nearest you, visit our website.
Disclaimer: Patients’ health can vary. Always consult with a medical professional before taking medication, making health-related decisions or deciding if medical advice is right for you.