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HealthInfo Aoraki-South Canterbury

Nosebleeds

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 a person who has other health problems, or who is taking blood-thinning medications such as aspirin, warfarin, dabigatran or rivaroxaban.

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.

Read about giving first aid for nosebleeds.

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.

Preventing nosebleeds

If you or your child have a lot of nosebleeds you may need treatment to try and 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). This is when an otolaryngologist – previously called an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialist – makes your nose numb with a local anaesthetic, and then touches on the blood vessel with either a silver nitrate stick or electric current.

Self-care with nosebleeds

Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed May 2020.

Sources

Page reference: 658311

Review key: HINBC-16619