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HealthInfo Waitaha Canterbury



A nosebleed is when blood comes out of one or both nostrils.

Nosebleeds are usually caused by the tiny blood vessels inside your nostrils bursting. Common causes include minor injuries to your nose, irritation from hay fever, a cold and picking your nose.

Dry air or changes in air pressure (for example, flying in an aeroplane) can also cause a nosebleed.

Nosebleeds are common, especially in tamariki (children). They are usually easy to treat and do not mean anything is seriously wrong.

A bleeding nose can be more serious if you have other health problems. It can also be more serious if you take blood-thinning medications such as warfarin, dabigatran or rivaroxaban.

If a tamaiti (child) has a bleeding nose, always check to see if there is something stuck in their nose. If there is, visit a health professional straight away. Do not try to take the object out yourself, as you might cause more damage.

Read about giving first aid for nosebleeds.


If someone has a bleeding nose or fluid dripping from their nose after a head injury, phone 111 for an ambulance urgently. They may have a fractured (broken) skull.

Preventing nosebleeds

If you or your tamaiti have a lot of nosebleeds, you may need treatment to try to stop them.

An antiseptic or antibiotic ointment may help if there is a raw area inside the nose.

If there are swollen blood vessels inside the nose, they may need to be sealed off using nasal cauterisation (cor-ter-iz-ay-shun). To do this, an otolaryngologist makes your nose numb with a local anaesthetic. They then touch the blood vessel with either a silver nitrate stick or electric current. Otolaryngologists were previously called ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialists.

Self-care with nosebleeds

Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed October 2023.


Page reference: 658311

Review key: HINBC-16619