Many children get nosebleeds. Some even get a few a week, especially in younger kids. It can be really scary for both kids and parents, but, generally, nosebleeds in kids aren’t dangerous and are very common. Rachel Dawkins, M.D., medical director of the Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine Clinics at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital, gives parents important information about nosebleeds.
Most parents worry because their child’s nosebleed looks like a lot of blood or there might even be clots. This is because the nose has a very good blood supply. In truth, it’s not a lot of blood but more like a couple of tablespoons of blood.
Most nosebleeds come out of the blue, and many kids will wake up after having a nosebleed in the middle of the night. Parents are usually freaked out by the amount of blood on the pillowcase.
What causes nosebleeds?
The most common cause of nosebleeds is trauma (for example, nose picking). Sometimes blowing a nose too hard or aggressive suctioning of the nose can cause bleeding. Allergies and colds can cause swelling of the lining of the nose and can cause bleeding.
Also, rubbing the nose from the itchiness of allergies can cause some bleeding. Allergy medicines can make the nose dry and lead to nose bleeds as well as low humidity. That is something to think about if you travel outside of Florida. Lastly, anatomical abnormalities, use of supplemental oxygen and bleeding disorders can cause nosebleeds but are far less common.
What do I do if my child is having a nosebleed?
Don’t freak out! A nosebleed can be frightening but is rarely serious.
Hold pressure on the lower part of the nose and tilt the head forward. Hold pressure for 10 minutes. Ten minutes is a really long time. Don’t stop early and check if the bleeding has stopped because the body needs time to develop a clot and the blood might start flowing again.
Remember to lean the head forward. If you lean backward the blood will flow down the throat and your child will likely vomit.
What do you do if the bleeding doesn’t stop after 10 minutes of pressure?
Hold more pressure! Give it another 10 minutes of pressure and see if the bleeding stops. If after 20 minutes the bleeding hasn’t stopped, call your pediatrician.
Some kids may need to use saline spray or petrolatum to keep their nasal passages moist. Other kids may need to see an ear, nose and throat specialist if nosebleeds are due to an anatomical issue. If you are worried, make an appointment with your pediatrician.
On Call for All Kids is a weekly series featuring Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital experts. Visit HopkinsAllChildrens.org/Stories each Monday for the latest report. You also can explore more advice from Rachel Dawkins, M.D., or download our free Pocket Doc app, which features a symptom checker, parenting advice and other tools for staying in touch with us.