About nosebleeds in children

Nosebleeds are very common in children. Some children get a lot of nosebleeds.

Children can get nosebleeds if they:

  • pick at their noses
  • bump their noses or blow their noses too hard
  • get foreign objects stuck up their noses
  • have allergies
  • get infections in their noses, throats or sinuses
  • use medications like nose sprays incorrectly
  • strain to do poos when they’re constipated
  • have irritated noses because of dry air.

Rare causes of nosebleeds include bleeding disorders and other underlying medical conditions.

With a nosebleed, it helps to remember that although it might look like a lot of blood, usually there isn’t that much.

Does your child need to see a doctor about nosebleeds?

You should take your child to see your GP if:

  • the bleeding hasn’t stopped after 20 minutes, despite firm pressure on the nose
  • your child is also generally unwell, looks pale or has unexplained bruises on her body
  • your child is less than two years old and has a bleeding nose
  • your child has regular nosebleeds.

Nosebleed treatment

The first step to treating a nosebleed is to stay calm. This will help settle your child if he’s upset by the sight and taste of blood. Crying can make the nosebleed worse.

Then the next step is to apply firm pressure with your finger and thumb on the sides of the nostrils (the soft part of the nose).

Continue this for 10 minutes with your child sitting up and keeping her head still and slightly tilted forward. Don’t lie her down or tilt her head back. Wait the full 10 minutes. Don’t keep checking to see whether the bleeding has stopped.

If your child’s nose is still bleeding after 10 minutes of pressure, repeat the process for another 10 minutes.

If the bleeding stops
Encourage your child not to blow or pick his nose for about 24 hours. This will help the blood clot in his nose to strengthen.

Your child might vomit during or after a nosebleed if she has swallowed some blood. This is pretty normal, and your child should spit out the blood.

If the bleeding won’t stop
If you can’t stop the bleeding with the treatment steps above, you should take your child to the GP or hospital emergency department.

The doctor might put some cream or ointment up your child’s nose to help stop the bleeding.

Nose-packing
This is a common treatment for nosebleeds. The doctor puts a special cloth dressing into your child’s nose. If the dressing isn’t dissolvable, your child might need a follow-up appointment 24-48 hours later to have it taken out.

Cautery
This is another common treatment for nosebleeds. The doctor uses a special chemical to seal off the bleeding and ‘freeze’ the blood vessel. Doctors usually use anaesthetic for cautery.

Very rarely your child might need to see an ear, nose and throat specialist and go into hospital for treatment.

After a nosebleed

Here’s what to do after your child has had a nosebleed:

  • Ensure your child rests over the next 24 hours.
  • Keep your child out of hot baths.
  • Encourage your child not to pick or blow his nose.

Sometimes a doctor will recommend that your child uses a saline nasal spray or lubricating ointment to help with dryness. The doctor might also recommend using an antibiotic ointment, which you’ll need to put up your child’s nose.