What Should I do if my Child Gets a Bloody Nose?

Bloody noses (or epistaxis) happen commonly in children and are rarely serious.

First of all, remain calm; you may scare your child. Keep your child in a sitting or standing position. Tilt the head slightly forward and have them blow gently if old enough. Pinch the lower half of the nose (the soft part) between your fingers and hold for a full 10 minutes (don’t peek). If your child is old enough, have them do this themselves. Release after a 10 minutes and see if the bleeding has stopped. If it hasn’t, pinch again for another 10 minutes. If the bleeding still hasn’t stopped, contact your child’s health care provider or proceed to an emergency room (it is rare that you will have to do this).

Do not have your child lie down or tilt back his or her head. It can make the blood drip down the back of the throat. Don’t stuff tissues, gauze or any other material into your child’s nose to stop the bleeding — the materials may get stuck!

A lack of moisture in the air (like when the furnace is on) can dry out the lining of the nose, causing nose bleeds. A vaporizer or nasal saline drops can moisturize the lining of the nose. If your child tends to pick his or her nose, the constant irritation may be the cause of the bleeding. Gentle reminders to stop picking can be helpful.

Call your child’s health care provider if:

  • Your child is unusually pale, sweaty or is not responsive. 
  • If your child has lots of nosebleeds, along with a chronically stuffy nose. This may mean a small blood vessel may be broken or very superficial to the surface of the lining of the nose.

Today’s expert is Sharon Rink, MD, pediatrician, ThedaCare Physicians-Darboy.