Ear, Nose & Throat

A Parent’s Guide to Frequent Bloody Noses

written by Becki Andrus

It can be startling to suddenly see blood pouring from your child’s nose. In this urgent moment, not only are you trying to stop the bleeding, but you are likely wondering what started the nosebleed in the first place.

Even though it is stressful to deal with a child’s nosebleed, there’s no need to panic. Childhood nosebleeds are quite common, and the blood flow usually stops within a few minutes.

As a parent, you need to know how to respond to a nosebleed so you can stop the bleeding as quickly as possible. Additionally, it’s helpful to understand the underlying causes of childhood nosebleeds, so you prevent problems in the future.

Common Causes of Childhood Bloody Noses

Why is your child’s nose bleeding? Whether it is a 1-time situation or your child has frequent bloody noses, you need to know what is causing the bleeding.

Nosebleeds can start in the posterior or anterior part of the nose. Posterior bleeding originates deep within the nasal area, usually caused by an injury to the nose or face. Anterior bleeding is more common, and it happens when tiny blood vessels in the front of the nose rupture.

Common causes of frequent bloody noses in children include:

  • Weather: When the air is dry, it dehydrates and irritates the membranes in the nose. If you live in a dry climate or are inside in a heated environment, it could contribute to the risk of nosebleeds.
  • Picking or Scratching: If your child has their finger up their nose, there is a high risk of nosebleeds. The picking or scratching causes the blood vessels to be exposed, which can result in bleeding.
  • Injury: Any type of trauma affecting the nose or face can cause a nosebleed. Even something as simple as getting bonked while playing can result in a bloody nose.
  • Foreign Object: Sometimes, children will push small objects up their noses. This object can break the membranes and cause bleeding.
  • Sickness or Allergies: When nasal congestion occurs due to a head cold or allergies, it causes irritation in the nasal area. The swollen mucous membrane has a higher risk of broken blood vessels and bleeding.
  • Infection: The development of a sinus infection or bacterial infection can cause nosebleeds.
  • Abnormalities: It’s not common, but rare cases of abnormal blood vessels or blood clotting issues can increase the risk of frequent nosebleeds.
  • Chronic Illness: Certain chronic diseases can contribute to nosebleeds. For example, if the child is on a medication that dries out the nasal membranes or uses oxygen, there is a higher risk of nosebleeds.
  • Family History: A history of bleeding disorders in the family can contribute to frequent nosebleeds.

Keep in mind that nosebleeds are more common in children than adults, often because children put their fingers in their noses often.

How to Stop a Nosebleed

Parents drop everything to help their children with a nosebleed. In addition to stopping the bleeding, it’s also essential to prevent a bigger mess if blood is flowing freely.

Follow these tips when you need to stop a nosebleed:

  • Remain Calm: Most nosebleeds aren’t severe medical emergencies. Stay calm, so you don’t cause your child to get more upset in the moment.
  • Stay Upright: Keep the child in a standing or seated position, angling the body to lean forward slightly. Don’t have the child lay down or put their head back because it can cause blood to go down the back of the throat. Sometimes, blood flowing in the throat can result in vomiting.
  • Don’t Put Anything in the Nose: Don’t stuff tissues or cotton balls in the nose. Instead, hold the tissues on the outside of the nostril.
  • Pinch the Bridge of the Nose: Put your thumb and pointer finger on either side of the bridge of the nose and firmly pinch. If you have one available, you can place a cold compress on this part of the nose to slow the bleeding. Hold the pressure for 10 minutes.
  • Spit Blood Out of the Mouth: Instruct the child to split blood out of the mouth instead of swallowing it. While the nose is pinched, tell the child to breathe through their mouth.
  • After 10 Minutes: If you can’t stop the bleeding within 10 minutes, try pinching the nose again for another 10 minutes. Then it might be time to seek medical support.

When the bleeding stops, have the child rest for a while before they start playing again. The child should avoid strenuous activity for the next 24 hours. Also, avoid rubbing or blowing the nose because it could cause the nosebleed to start again.

Signs Your Child Needs Medical Treatment for a Nosebleed

If you can stop the bleeding at home, you probably don’t need to seek medical treatment.

Just because your child gets a nosebleed doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to schedule a doctor’s appointment. But there are several signs to watch for so you know when it’s time to talk to a doctor:

  • The child is unresponsive
  • The skin is sweaty and pale
  • The nose bleeds longer than 15 minutes
  • A lot of blood has been lost
  • Vomiting blood or a brown colored substance
  • The nosebleed happened due to an injury or impact on any part of the head
  • The child recently started taking new medications
  • Bleeding is also coming from other parts of the body, such as the gums or mouth
  • There are visible bruises on the child’s body
  • The child inserted a foreign object in their nose

What You Need to Know about Frequent Nosebleeds

It’s normal and expected for children to get occasional nosebleeds, especially in the early years of life. In fact, some preschool-age children will get nosebleeds weekly or several times a month.

If you notice that your child is getting a lot of nosebleeds, then it’s a good idea to talk to an ENT for diagnosis and treatment options.

Sometimes, prevention is as simple as setting up a humidifier in the child’s bedroom or using saline drops or Vaseline to lubricate the nasal passages each day. If you live in a dry climate or run the furnace, consider these at-home remedies to prevent future nosebleeds.

Also, teach the child not to put any fingers or objects up the nose. Trim the child’s nails to keep them short and reduce irritation in the nose.

Help for Frequent Nosebleeds

Do you need answers about why your child is having frequent nosebleeds? Then, schedule an ENT consultation with our team at Collin County Ear, Nose, and Throat. We have offices in Frisco and Plano and offer services for families in and around Collin County and Dallas, TX. Submit the online form for an appointment request, or call: (972) 596-4005.

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