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HealthInfo Canterbury

Frequent nosebleeds

If you or your child have a lot of nosebleeds:

Nasal cauterisation

One treatment for frequent nosebleeds is called nasal cauterisation (cor-ter-iz-ay-shun). This means sealing off the small blood vessels in your nose that are causing the problem. It is done with either silver nitrate, or a process called bipolar diathermy.

Silver nitrate cauterisation can be a bit painful, especially for children. There is also a small chance the process could damage the middle wall between their nostrils (this is called the septum).

After nasal cauterisation

If an ENT doctor (also called an ear, nose and throat specialist, or an otolaryngologist) has cauterised your nose, you may need to have a second treatment to stop the bleeding completely.

You may also have a dressing in your nose – this is also called packing your nose. Sometimes the packing is dissolvable. Ask you doctor whether yours needs to be removed or is designed to stay in. If you have been prescribed antibiotics, make sure you take them all and don't have any left over.

If you have been given an ointment, apply it to the affected nostril two to three times a day, for five to seven days. This will keep the scab soft. Put a small amount of ointment on your fingertip, and put it inside your nostril against the middle wall of your nose. Be careful not to scratch your nose with your fingernail.

Avoid any medicines containing aspirin (Disprin), diclofenac (Voltaren) or ibuprofen (Brufen, Nurofen, Panafen) for a week, unless a doctor tells you to keep taking them.

Tell the doctor about any blood-thinning medicines you are taking. If you are taking warfarin, you will probably have to change the amount you take. Follow the instructions the doctor gives you and arrange a follow-up appointment with your GP.

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

Page reference: 658311

Review key: HINBC-16619