Nose bleeds (or epistaxis) are rare in infancy, but become common in childhood. Their frequency decreases in puberty. Common causes include digital trauma, foreign objects in the nose, dry air, and inflammation. In addition, they may be caused by upper respiratory infections, sinusitis, and nasal allergies. In children with nasal lesions, bleeding may occur after exercise. In many children, there is a family history of childhood epistaxis. When bleeding occurs, the blood may be swallowed. If this causes an upset stomach, your child may vomit up red blood. If the blood passes through the intestine, it may turn the stools dark or black.
When your child has a nose bleed:
- Have your child sit up straight with the head tilted slightly forward.
- If the child is old enough, have him/her gently blow out any clot that is sitting in the nose.
- Using your thumb and index fingers, squeeze the nostrils of the nose closed. A gauze pad or some tissues will keep the fingers of the nose-holder clean. Do not hold the nose over the bridge or sides. It has to be the tip.
- Hold for 10 minutes without letting go of the tip. Hold firmly, then gently let go. All of the bleeding should be stopped. If it is not, resume holding.
- If holding a second time does not work, call our office.
- If nose bleeds are common, try putting antibiotic ointment on a Q-Tip™ swab and coating the inside of the nose. Be especially sure to cover the septum, which is the divider between the two sides of the nose. Bacitracin™, Neosporin™ and Triple Antibiotic Ointment are available over the counter. Apply one of them twice daily for several weeks.
- In winter, when the air inside your home is very dry, a vaporizer in your child’s room at night may help reduce bleeding episodes. Be sure to dry out the vaporizer each day or it may grow mold.
- If nose bleeds are very common or very hard to stop, and these measures do not work, contact our office.