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Nosebleeds are very common in children. A nosebleed (also called epistaxis) occurs when a small blood vessel in the lining of the nose bursts. The inside of the nose is delicate and the small blood vessels are fragile and close to the surface. This means they can burst easily, and start
The bleeding is usually minimal and brief, and will typically stop in less than 10 minutes. While it can look like a lot of blood has been lost (especially when soaked in a tissue or on clothing), it is rare for children to lose so much blood that it causes any problems (e.g. anaemia). This
is only to be likely with frequent, heavy nosebleeds over several weeks or months.
Nosebleeds can usually be treated with first aid, and a visit to the doctor is not needed.
Nosebleeds often caused by harmless activities such as your child picking their nose, blowing it too hard or too often, or from getting knocked on the nose during play.
Other causes of a nosebleed may include:
Sometimes, children can have multiple nosebleeds over a several weeks.
Nosebleeds do not cause pain; however, your child may be very distressed and upset by the sight and taste of blood during a nosebleed.
Try to calm and reassure your child, because crying will make the bleeding worse, then follow these first aid instructions:
In addition to squeezing the nostrils, try the following:
If after trying first aid the bleeding continues, take your child to the GP or your nearest hospital emergency department. A doctor will look up into your child's nose with a light to see if they can find the bleeding blood vessel.
The doctor may then:
If nasal packing is not needed, your doctor may prescribe an antibiotic ointment to be applied to the inside of your child's nose up to four times a day for a week or so to clear any mild infection that may be present.
For severe nosebleeds, your child may need to have a blood test to check how much blood they have lost.
Take your child to the GP if they:
Your child may be referred to an ENT (ear, nose and throat) specialist.
After a nosebleed:
To help prevent nosebleeds in the future:
After a nosebleed, it's very
difficult to get my child to not sniff or pick at his nose for a whole day.
What can I do?
Having a nose full of clotted blood is not
pleasant, and it is understandable that children may find it difficult to avoid
sniffing, blowing or picking at their nose. Try to distract your child for as
long as possible to give the blood clot time to stabilise – even 15 minutes
without your child sniffing, blowing or picking will help.
Developed by The Royal Children's Hospital Emergency department. We acknowledge the input of RCH consumers and carers.
Reviewed March 2018.
This information is awaiting routine review. Please always seek the most recent advice from a registered and practising clinician.
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