Nosebleeds certainly look scary, especially for your kids. The nose is so full of tiny blood vessels that a bang on the nose will produce a lot more blood than a similar blow to the hand or leg.
Fortunately, the occasional nosebleed is both common and easy to fix. If your child suffers from frequent nosebleeds, particularly nosebleeds that have no apparent cause, you may need to make a few changes to your home environment and to your lifestyle in order to stop them from happening.
However, these changes are minor and should get your child’s nose back to normal in no time.
Causes Of Nosebleeds
The most obvious cause of a nosebleed – and the one that leads to the scariest amount of blood – is when something hits your child’s nose and breaks the blood vessels. However, seemingly spontaneous nosebleeds can have other causes as well.
If your child has allergies or a cold, they may get a nosebleed from blowing their nose too hard or too frequently, or from rubbing or scratching their nose. If your child picks their nose, their fingernails might scratch the skin hard enough to cause a nosebleed. Another frequent culprit for nosebleeds is dry air.
Dry air can make your child’s nose itch, causing them to scratch more often than usual, or they can dehydrate the nasal lining and cause it to crack just as it might do to chapped lips or hands. Forced air heaters tend to make dry air even drier, so nosebleeds are more common in winter.
Stopping A Nosebleed
If your child has a nosebleed, stay calm. The sight of all that blood coming out of their nose is going to scare them, and if you panic it will make them feel even worse. Lean your child forward slightly, as leaning backward can cause blood to run down their throat and may cause gagging or even vomiting.
Gently pinch the soft part of their nose with a cloth or tissue, or tell them to pinch it themselves if they are old enough, to apply pressure to the wound and stop the bleeding. After ten minutes, the bleeding should stop.
Make sure they don’t rub, pick, or blow their nose for a while after the bleeding stops; this could knock out the clot that’s just formed and start the bleeding all over again.
You can also try applying ice to the bridge of the nose to constrict the blood vessels. Neo-sypherine, an over-the-counter nasal decongestant spray, can also tighten the blood vessels and slow or stop the bleeding if the nosebleed is particularly stubborn.
When To Call The Doctor
If your child’s nosebleed is still going after you’ve applied pressure for twenty minutes, take them to the emergency room. You should also go to the emergency room if your child is complaining about feeling lightheaded or dizzy, is coughing up blood, or is having trouble breathing.
Sometimes, your child’s problem isn’t severe enough to need a trip to the ER, but does warrant a call to the pediatrician’s office. According to the Seattle Children’s Hospital, you should call the pediatrician night or day if the nosebleed lasts for more than 10 minutes or if your child has lost a particularly large amount of blood.
You should also call the doctor if you see any unusual bruises or bleeding gums that weren’t caused by an injury, as this might be a sign of a bleeding disorder. Finally, call the doctor during office hours if your child has more than one nosebleed a week or if your family has a history of bleeding disorders.
The frequent nosebleeds may be because of something as simple as overly dry air, but they could also be a symptom of a more serious problem, such as a deviated septum or a dangerously low platelet count, and your child’s doctor needs to check.
Stopping Chronic Nosebleeds With Moist Air
If your child seems to have an unusual number of unexplained nosebleeds, but you aren’t quite ready to call the doctor yet, there are some home remedies you can try. Most chronic, spontaneous nosebleeds come from dry air, so keeping the air humid is a good place to start.
Try putting a humidifier in your child’s room, especially at night. Pediatrician Bill Sears recommends a warm-mist humidifier, since it keeps your child’s room warm and lets you turn off the forced-air heating in your child’s room. However, the Mayo Clinic recommends always using a cool-mist humidifier for children to prevent burns.
Both do an equally good job of humidifying the air, so consult your child’s pediatrician to see which is best for your situation.
Although your child may not like them, over-the-counter saline drops or gels can help keep your child’s nasal passages moist. You can also make your own saline solution by adding two teaspoons of salt and a teaspoon of baking soda to a quart of water.
Use an eyedropper or a bulb syringe to squirt the solution gently into your child’s nose. If you’d prefer, you can use a cotton swab or Q-tip to gently apply Vaseline, petroleum jelly, or antibiotic ointment to your child’s nose. Antibiotic ointment has the added benefit of keeping any cuts and scrapes in the nose free from infection.
Other Solutions For Chronic Nosebleeds
Sometimes, your child’s nose is itchy because of allergies and irritants rather than dry air. Change the filters on your heater and air conditioner once a month to ensure that they aren’t spraying dust, mold, animal dander, and other allergens into the air.
Hypoallergenic bedding and clothing can help as well, as can fragrance-free soaps and detergents. You can also try vacuuming your child’s room more frequently in order to keep dust out of the air. If you know for a fact that your child does have allergies and are already giving them allergy medication, keep in m
ind that these medications usually work by drying out the nasal passages to stop the nose from running, so you may need to use the moist air suggestions in addition to keeping your child’s environment allergy-friendly.
If you think your child’s nosebleeds have more to do with nose picking and scratching than dry air, trim their nails regularly so they’re less likely to break the skin.
Try getting them a pocket-sized packet of soft tissues or handkerchiefs, so they always have a way to blow their nose instead of picking at it (keeping in mind that if the tissues are too rough, it’s just going to cause more bleeding). Even if you think nose-picking is the cause, moisturizing the air or your child’s nose can still help; if the air in your house is more humid, their nose will be less itchy, and they’ll be less likely to scratch in the first place.