Nose Bleeds in Kids: Causes, Treatment, and Prevention for Parents

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by Dr. Christopher Haines

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03.20.2022

Nose Bleeds in Kids: Causes, Treatment, and Prevention for Parents

Kids Health Secrets | Blue Emerald Wellness

child with a nose bleed

Nosebleeds are a common problem for kids. Find out what causes nose bleeding, how to treat and prevent them, and when you need to take your child to the doctor.

Nosebleeds in kids, also known as epistaxis, can be a frightening experience for both the child and the parents. It is important to understand the causes of nosebleeds in children, as well as how to treat and prevent them. In this blog post, we will discuss the different causes of nosebleeds in kids, along with treatment and prevention tips for parents. Stay safe and healthy!

Nosebleeds in your child, as we said, can be very scary. It looks like a lot of bleeding, but in most cases it is not. Even with frequent nose bleeds, children generally do not lose a significant amount of blood. That being said, it can be very scary for a parent or anyone that takes care of a child. In most cases, nosebleeds are not serious and can be treated at home.

Causes:

The most common causes of nosebleeds in children include: dry air, nose picking, allergies, and trauma.

  • Nose picking/Allergies/Dry Air:

toddler picking his nose

The most common cause of nose bleeds is picking. If you ask any child or parent they all say that they don’t pick their nose but…they do. It may not be during the day, but can occur during sleep from rubbing and itching. This rubbing and picking is directly associated with allergies as well as dry air. So how does this happen? If we think about allergens (particles that float in the air), they get kicked up in the air during the day (did you ever see light coming through a window and see the particles in the air – they are there) and begin to settle at night time. The particles settle to bed height between 2 am and 5 am resulting in itching, rubbing, and nose picking. This can be worse depending on where you live in the spring, summer and fall as the result of allergens (pollens). And unfortunately, you don’t get to escape in the winter as dry air can cause itching as well.

  • Trauma:

Another common cause of nosebleeds is trauma and as we know as parents, kids like to fall all the time. Nosebleeds may result from a fall, blow to the nose, or other injury. Typically nose injuries occur in sports that involve contact and can lead to nasal bone fractures and associated nose bleeding. Additionally, toddlers and younger children may place foreign objects in their noses leading to bleeding.

Treatment/Prevention:

The treatment of nose bleeds in children is usually very simple. Most nosebleeds can be treated at home by the following measures:

  1. Have the child sit up and lean forward to keep blood from going down the throat. Children should never be encouraged to lean backwards as this will prevent swallowing of blood which can result in vomiting.
  2. Apply pressure directly to the soft part of the nose by taking two fingers and squeezing firmly. This pressure should be maintained for 5-7 minutes without peeking. Peeking or checking will lead to re-bleeding as human bleeding time is about 5 minutes. This is one of the most common causes for nose bleeds that can’t be stopped. If your child is still bleeding after 5-7 minutes without peeking, try applying similar pressure with ice/ice cubes wrapped in a cloth or paper towel (but make sure you do not apply the ice directly to the skin as it can cause ice burns). One of the other common reasons we see that result in continued bleeding is applying pressure in the wrong spot. We commonly have parents tell us that they put pressure on the bridge of the nose and sometimes we hear that a cold cloth was applied to the forehead. These techniques will not help. Apply pressure to the soft part of the nose and hold, hold, hold (at least 5 minutes).
  3. After you have stopped the bleeding, some children will re-bleed if they rub or blow their nose. If this happens just reapply pressure and the bleeding should stop. Other tips for after the bleeding has stopped include the following: do your best to prevent nose blowing for 24 hours (this can dislodge a clot and cause more bleeding), after 24 hours begin to use nasal saline spray to keep the nasal tissue moist and to speed healing, and a bedtime apply a small amount of vaseline around the exterior of the nose. This will provide lubricant if your child rubs or places their fingers in their nose at night possible preventing re-bleeding.
  4. If you think your child is getting nose bleeds that are related to allergies, you should have a discussion with your pediatrician or a pharmacist (many allergy medications are over the counter and do not require a prescription) about what medicines may be effective for your child. Allergy medication may make your child less itchy at night, decrease sneezing, decrease rubbing/picking and prevent nosebleeds.
  5. If your child plays sports, nose bleeds and nasal injury can be common. Make sure your child is wearing the right sport appropriate facial protection if applicable. Examples include face protection with field hockey, helmet and face mask with hockey and face guards/helmet with baseball in younger children.

As we said, the majority of nosebleeds can be treated at home. However, if you are unable to stop the bleeding or your child has a nasal injury, a discussion with your child’s pediatrician or a trip to the emergency department should be considered.

Love this? Sign up for Kids Health Secrets, an online kids’ preventive health and wellness platform to learn more. Kids Health Secrets has on-line classes, live classes, and resources that are perfect for any parent including those that are expecting, new parents, experienced and those that have children with special needs. Consults are available! Online classes start at $129 and live classes start at $49.99 so check them out today!

For more information and resources on your baby’s or child’s health, parent tips and tricks, pediatric emergencies, please visit our website or blog. Follow us on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. You can also visit our website to download free PDF guides and hear our podcasts.

The information in this blog is not intended to substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. All content is for general information purposes and is the opinion of staff at Blue Emerald Wellness. Please do not delay seeking medical advice or treatment because of something you read in this blog.

Authored by Dr. Christopher Haines

Disclosure: We only recommend products we would use ourselves and all opinions expressed here are our own. This post may contain affiliate links. If you use these links to buy something we may earn a small commission. Read our full privacy policy here.

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