Bloody noses (epistaxis
) are uncomfortable and scary-looking, but usually not dangerous. Kids get nosebleeds
more often than adults, typically either from irritating the nasal membrane (picking their noses) or from trauma (like a soccer ball in the face). When adults get nosebleeds
, it could be an indicator of a more severe medical problem. Be sure to tell your doctor if you have gotten bloody noses, especially without physical trauma.
For a demonstration on managing bloody noses, watch Stopping a Nosebleed, a video from About.com First Aid.
Time Required: 5 - 15 minutes
- Stay Safe! Follow universal precautions and wear personal protective equipment if you have it. The victim's bloody nose may be from trauma. Make sure you are not going to be hurt while helping the victim.
- Lean forward, not back. Don't try to protect a favorite shirt by leaning back. The blood needs to go somewhere and will most likely go down the throat. If the victim leans back, blood could get in the windpipe causing a blocked airway, or go into the stomach. Blood may irritate the stomach lining and cause the victim to vomit.
- Pinch the victim's nose just below the bony bridge. Your fingers should be on the soft tissue as well as the bone. If there is still blood flowing, adjust your grip. There should not be visible bleeding while you are holding the nose. Blood vessels that supply the nasal membrane can be pinched against the bony bridge (the hard part) to slow blood flow and create a clot. Hold the nose for at least 5 minutes. Do not let go to check bleeding until the 5 minutes is up.
- After 5 minutes, release the pressure to see if the bleeding has stopped. If not, repeat Step 3 for 10 minutes this time. Remember: don't let go to check bleeding until the 10 minutes is up. Repeat for another 10 minutes if necessary.
- If a nosebleed doesn't stop after the second or third try, it's time to see a doctor. If at any time, the victim feels lightheaded, dizzy, or weak, call 911. If left uncontrolled, bloody noses can lead to shock.
- Placing ice or a chemical cold pack over the bridge of the nose can constrict the blood vessels and help stop bleeding. Use this in addition to pressure.
- After the bleeding is controlled, do not let the victim blow his or her nose. Blowing the nose will release the clots and encourage bleeding to start again.
- Most bloody noses are the result of dry nasal membranes or trauma. However, some nosbleeds occur spontaneously and may indicate more serious medical problems. Contact a physician if the victim is suffering from frequent or hard-to-control bloody noses.
- Bloody noses after trauma to the head may indicate a brain injury - especially if the bleeding occurs without obvious facial injury. If a victim of significant trauma - such as a vehicle accident or fall - is bleeding from the nose, call 911 immediately.