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HealthInfo Canterbury

Nosebleeds

Nosebleeds are common, especially in children. They are usually easy to treat and usually don't mean anything is seriously wrong. They can be caused by minor injuries to your nose, irritation from hay fever, a cold, picking your nose, or high pressure (for example, flying in an aeroplane). The medical word for nosebleeds is epistaxis.

A bleeding nose can be more serious in an older person who has other health problems, such as high blood pressure, or who is taking blood-thinning medications such as aspirin and warfarin.

If a child has a bleeding nose, always check to see if there is something stuck in their nose. If there is, visit a doctor straight away. Don't try to take the object out yourself, as you might cause more damage.

Important

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

First aid for nosebleeds

If the bleeding is heavy or doesn't stop within 20 minutes, keep applying pressure to your nose and see a doctor urgently.

Don't blow your nose for a few hours after the bleeding stops, as it might start again. To stop it from bleeding again, avoid hot food, drinks, having a shower, and being in the sun for a couple of days after your nosebleed.

Rest and avoid straining or bending for one or two days after a nose bleed. If you need to sneeze, try to sneeze with your mouth open, to avoid straining your nose.

If you or your child have a lot of nosebleeds, see Frequent nosebleeds.

Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Endorsed clinical director, Otolaryngology, Canterbury DHB. Page created December 2015. Last updated August 2019.

Page reference: 47593

Review key: HINBC-16619