Mommy Musings: Stop Your Child’s Frequent Nosebleeds In Minutes

noseOur toasty, heated homes do more than provide warmth on these cold days. For some, particularly children ages two to 10, the warm, dry air can trigger nosebleeds. Noses are rich in blood vessels and indoor air can cause the ones in the front of the nose to dry out and crack, resulting in a spontaneous bleed.

My five-year-old is a bleeder and I was one, too, growing up, so bloody noses don’t freak me out. What does alarm me is when my husband calls me at work to say Little C was playing in his room, got a nosebleed and ruined the new carpet in his room before going to get help. “It looks like a crime scene in here,” he said.

First things first, we treated the carpet. I’m kidding. My husband stopped the blood flow while I called the carpet company. In my defense, I wasn’t home at the time and this was new carpet, remember?

As for the nosebleed, here’s what you can do if this happens to your little one. Have your child sit still and pinch the soft, cushy part of the nose firmly with a tissue (just below the bony area) for about 10 minutes. Putting pressure on the nose presses against the bleeding vein. This should stop the flow and make the blood clot. No peeking to see if the blood stopped either! Letting up too early can reignite the flow. It’s also important to tilt their head slightly forward. Believe me, you don’t want to tilt back. I had a teacher do that to me once and there’s this little thing called gravity that made the blood rush down my throat. Ick!

If you have a little one who won’t sit still that long, read him a story or turn on cartoons to divert his attention while you’re holding his nose. If they’re old enough, teach them how to do this technique themselves so you don’t have a CSI moment like we did. Afterward, keep their activity light for a couple hours since the nose is still sensitive.

Usually when Little C gets a nosebleed, he’ll have repeat bleeds over the span of a week or so. It’s frustrating for him and one morning, as I wished him a nosebleed-free day at school, he said, “And I won’t pick at my nose today, either!” Oh, good idea. I didn’t think to remind him to keep his fingers away from his nose. I sympathize with him, however, as a nose healing from a nosebleed can itch and feel uncomfortable. A dab of petroleum jelly on the inner side of the nose will soften the scabs, making kids more likely to leave them alone.  Just in case your child can’t follow your advice to keep their fingers away from their nose, make sure to keep their nails short.

To discourage future bleeds, moisten the air in your child’s room with a vaporizer or humidifier. You can also keep the inside of your child’s nose moist with a saline nasal spray or dab antibiotic ointment around the opening of the nostrils.

For the frequent bleeder, or if the nosebleed usually lasts longer than ten minutes, you may want to consider a simple medical procedure to cauterize the vein so it doesn’t open anymore. Some people’s veins are closer to the mucous membrane of their noses and, being so close to the skin, it makes them more vulnerable to bleeds.

One last thing, if the blood does get on your carpet, don’t panic. We dabbed ours with vinegar and wiped it up after it bubbled to the surface. Little C’s room smelled like a dyed Easter egg for a few days, but his carpet is immaculate and it came clean without harsh chemicals. Now we’re just waiting for those spring temperatures to roll in.

For more information about nosebleeds and when to call your doctor, check out the Johns Hopkins Health Library.

Christina Lombardi is the Publications Manager for Howard County General Hospital.  She manages marketing projects at work and kids at home.

1 Comment

  1. I put radiant heat under the old wooden floors in my Baltimore home 12 years ago. Best thing I did for the health of my family. We don’t have dry air in the winter like houses with forced air heating, and our house stays cozy all winter long.