Gan Pou Wee
M.Pharm, MBBS, BCPS, R.Ph
Seeing blood bleeding out of one’s child’s nose can be quite intimidating at times. Parents often worry too much and do not know how to handle the situation.
Not usually serious
Nosebleeds in children are not usually serious and happen very commonly. The culprits of these bleeds are usually due to nose-picking and/or dry air.
Therefore, when a child starts bleeding through his/her nose, the most important thing is to stay calm and know how to deal with it. By providing the right care, most nosebleeds will stop after a while.
Serious nose bleeds
However, there are situations where a nosebleed warrants medical attention. If the following occurs, parents should bring their children to see a doctor
- Injury to the nose or head causing a nosebleed
- Large amount of blood gushing out of the nose making it difficult to breathe
- The child becomes very pale or appears tired or confused
- Other symptoms occur with the nosebleed such as chest pain or headache
- Bleeding does not stop and the child is taking medicines for blood “thinning”
- Bleeding does not stop after performing the “self-care” instructions suggested below
Self-care for nosebleeds
The following are simple self-care instructions to deal with nosebleeds
- If the child is capable of blowing his/her own nose, tell them to do so. Although this might temporarily increase the bleeding, it is helpful in rectifying the nosebleed.
- Have the child stand or sit while bending a little forward at the waist. DO NOT lie the child down or tilt their head backwards. This might cause the bleed to flow backwards into the nose and throat which will then obstruct breathing.
- Pinch on the soft part, which is near the nostrils, of the nose. Pinching higher up, near the bridge of the nose DOES NOT work! Always pinch both sides even if the bleeding is from one side of the nose only.
- Continue pinching (from step 3) for about 5 minutes and DO NOT release the pressure on the pinch before the time is up to check on the bleed. This would reduce the success rate of stopping the bleed.
- Release the pressure once the time is up and check if the bleeding had stopped. If the bleeding persists, repeat all the steps again, but pinch for 10 minutes instead of 5. If the bleeding still persists, then the child should be brought to medical attention as soon as possible.
Nosebleeds may recur more frequently when
- Air is dry all the time
- Frequent use of certain cold or allergy medications (consult your pharmacist or doctor for this)
- Foreign objects in the nose
In certain cases, repeat nosebleeds may be a sign that the child is having certain blood disorders that interfere with blood clotting. These children usually will have other signs such as easy bruising and may bleed more than expected from minor wounds. Should a parent suspect this in their child, the child should be brought to medical attention.
Prevention of repeat nosebleeds
Parents may consider the following to prevent nosebleeds from recurring.
- Using a humidifier in the bedroom of the child when he/she sleeps to keep the air moist
- Applying nasal gel or nasal saline spray to keep the inside of the nose moist
- Discourage the habit of nose-picking in the child and also keep their nails short to avoid injury to the nose
Uptodate.com. (n.d.). Patient education: Nosebleeds (The Basics). [online] Available at: https://www.uptodate.com/contents/nosebleeds-the-basics [Accessed 2 Sep. 2017].