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HealthInfo Canterbury

Nosebleed first aid

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 children. They're usually easy to treat and don't mean anything is seriously wrong. 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 or warfarin.

If a child has a bleeding nose, always check to see if there's 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 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.

Rest and avoid straining or bending for one or two days after a nosebleed. 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. Last reviewed November 2019.

Sources

Page reference: 47593

Review key: HINBC-16619