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Mom and daughter nosebleed

Kids and nosebleeds: What parents need to know

The number one cause of nosebleeds is something that those of us in Wisconsin are all too familiar with — dry air. When it gets cold outside and the heaters turn on inside, we typically see an increase in nosebleeds. Nosebleeds caused by dry air or other common causes like colds, allergies and even nose-picking, can sometimes be prevented with a few do's and don’ts.

The do's

Preventing nosebleeds can be as simple as adding more moisture to the air. Placing a humidifier in the home can help, as well as applying ointment like petroleum jelly in your child’s nostrils before bedtime. These can help prevent the dry air from irritating the nose causing capillaries to break or bleed.

The don’ts

Remind your child not to pick his or her nose, as nose picking can lead to nosebleeds. Wearing socks over the hands at bedtime can keep kids from picking their nose while sleeping.

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Repeating nose blowing can also lead to irritation and nosebleeds, so it’s important to treat any colds or allergies to alleviate the need for repeated nose blowing.

Treating a nosebleed

Even with all of these precautions, nosebleeds can still happen. Here’s what to do to treat a nosebleed:

  • Place tissues or a damp cloth under the nose, and keep your child sitting up. Do not stuff the nose with facial tissues as it can encourage further irritation and bleeding.

  • Tilt your child’s head forward and pinch the soft part of the nose (the nostrils) together just below the bony center for five minutes. Tilting a child’s head back can cause blood to run back into the throat and could lead to coughing, choking or even vomiting.

  • Steady pressure should stop the nosebleed within 10 minutes. But it has to be steady pressure, so don’t keep checking to see if the bleeding has stopped.

Check out this video for a demonstration:

Most nosebleeds are easily controlled, but frequent nosebleeds — more than once a week — should be brought to the attention of a pediatrician. Seek emergency care if your child’s bleeding is heavy or accompanied by dizziness or weakness or if the bleeding started after a fall or head injury. If you or your child have questions or concerns about nosebleeds, talk to your pediatrician.