Nosebleeds are very common in preschoolers, as the inside of the nasal passages are a very vascular area, meaning that they are well supplied with blood vessels. These vessels are tiny and easily ruptured – especially when they become dry or irritated – causing a loss of blood. Although a nosebleed might be a traumatic experience for your child, they are rarely a cause for concern.

What causes nosebleeds?

Common causes of nosebleeds in children include colds, allergies, and sinus infections. Low humidity can also result in nosebleeds, as this can dry the nasal passages, making them more likely to rupture. Nose picking is a common cause of nosebleeds in children, as is trauma, such as receiving a blow to the nose. Less common are anatomical disorders that result in an abnormal nose structure and medications that predispose to nosebleeding as a side-effect.

What should I do if my child develops a nosebleed?

Some of the blood from your child’s nosebleed may end up in their mouth, so you should first get them to spit this out into a sink or some tissues. After this, you should sit them down and have them lean forward slightly. Then, using a tissue or soft cloth, gently pinch the soft part of their nose so that the nasal passage are shut, reminding them to breathe through their mouth. Continue to apply constant, gentle pressure for ten minutes (without peeking to see if the bleeding has stopped). After ten minutes, release the pressure and check for bleeding. If the bleeding continues, pinch your child’s nose closed again for another ten minutes. To help reduce the bleeding you can also apply a cold compress, or a frozen bag of peas to the bridge of their nose. This will help the blood vessels contract and reduce the flow of blood to the nose.

Two important things to remember:

  • Don’t tilt your child’s head back, lean them back, or make them lie down. These positions encourage the blood to run down your child’s throat into their stomach, which may make them vomit.
  • Don’t attempt to pack your child’s nose with cotton wool or tissues to prevent a nosebleed, as although doing this may staunch the bleeding initially, it can start right back up again when the packing is removed and the blood clots disturbed.

What should I do if I can’t get the nosebleed to stop?

If the nosebleed is persistent, despite repeated efforts at pinching your child’s nose, you should give your child’s doctor a call. They will have instruments to look into the nose to find the exact bleeding point.

Should I be concerned if my child has frequent nosebleeds?

Generally speaking, no. Most children who experience frequent nosebleeds outgrow them as they get older. However, you should call your doctor for advice if:

  • the nosebleed is a result of a fall or a blow to the head
  • you think your child has lost a lot of blood
  • the nosebleeds are accompanied by a tendency to easy bruising, or if there is bleeding from other areas, like the gums
  • the nosebleeds follow your child starting a new medicine
  • the nosebleeds are accompanied by a chronically stuffy nose

How can I prevent nosebleeds?

Many homes in this part of the world have air conditioning units that dry the air, leading to an increased likelihood that your child’s nasal passages become irritated. If the air in your home is dry, use a humidifier in your child’s room at night. These can be purchased from most good department and electronic stores. If your child picks their nose – as most children do at some point – encourage them to break the habit and keep their fingernails short with regular trimming.  You should also discourage them from putting any foreign objects, such as pencils and crayons, up their nose. If your child has allergies that might be contributing to a drying of their nasal passages, discuss with your child’s doctor about an appropriate treatment that will reduce nasal irritation and the likelihood of bleeding.

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