Nosebleeding or epistaxis occurs when the blood vessels or capillaries inside the nose rupture. Nosebleeds in kids usually occur in the front area of the nose, which contains many tiny blood vessels.
Though common in children, parents are generally concerned by the amount of blood children lose during a nosebleed. Fortunately, nosebleeds rarely have serious reasons in children. However, if your child experiences frequent nosebleeds or the nose bleeding worsens, it is recommended to seek your doctor’s advice.
Read this post to learn about the causes of nosebleeds in children and the first aid and treatment options you could consider.
Types Of Nosebleeds
There are two types of nosebleeds: anterior nosebleeds and posterior nosebleeds.
- Anterior nosebleeds: These are common in children and occur from the front of the nose.
- Posterior nosebleeds: These occur from deep inside the nose, and the blood usually flows down to the back of the throat. Posterior nosebleeds are rarely seen in children and might occur due to an underlying condition or an injury.
Causes For Nosebleeds In Children
In the majority of cases, the reasons for nosebleeds in children are benign and self-limiting. Anterior nosebleeds are common in children and could be caused by any of the following reasons.
- Nose-picking. This is a common habit in children and is often done to remove an uncomfortable sensation in the nose. However, sometimes, it becomes a habit, and children might pick their noses unconsciously. Picking the nose can scratch the inner surface of the nose, causing it to bleed (1).
- Dry climate. You might notice frequent nosebleeds in children during the winters. The dry weather causes the insides of the nose to dry, crack, and crust, resulting in bleeding (2).
- Nosebleeds could also be a side effect of using nasal sprays or cold and allergy medicines (3).
- Physical trauma. Nosebleeds can also happen in children when they suffer from an injury or a broken nose.
- Infections and allergies. Infections such as the common cold and allergies due to dust mite or hay fever can also cause nosebleeds in children.
- Nasal polyps
Nosebleeds from the posterior part of the nose can be a symptom of bleeding disorders, tumors, or sinuses (4).
If your child experiences repeated nosebleeds and the reasons mentioned above are ruled out, the problem could be deeper and might require prompt medical attention.
Are Recurring Nosebleeds In Kids A Problem?
A cross-sectional study of 1,218 children aged 11–14 years suggests that about 9% of children experience recurrent nosebleeds, with most of them outgrowing the condition as they age (5). If your child experiences repeated nosebleeds, it can irritate the lining of the nose and rupture the blood vessels, resulting in further nosebleeds even from a slight action or trauma.
Symptoms Of Nosebleeds In Children
The primary symptom of a nose bleed is blood dripping from the nostrils. When the blood drips from the anterior part of the nose, it usually starts from one nostril. However, in posterior nosebleeds, the blood is likely to drip from both nostrils. In both cases, the bleeding is usually painless. However, if the bleeding is due to an injury, your child is likely to experience pain (6).
Diagnosis Of Nosebleeds
Your doctor will do a physical examination of your child’s nose to determine if there is an injury. The doctor may also ask you the child’s medical history and any other symptoms your child might have.
How To Stop Nosebleeds In A Child?
It could be alarming to see blood dripping from your child’s nose. However, you can make it stop with some simple steps.
- Ask your child to stay calm and reassure them it is going to be ok.
- Make your child sit on a chair with their head tilted slightly forward. Do not let them tilt their head back or lie flat, as the blood might flow into the throat and cause gagging.
- Gently pinch the soft part of the nose with a tissue and hold it for ten minutes. You can also place ice on the bridge of the nose.
- Once the bleeding subsides, ask your child to relax and not blow, pick, or rub their nose.
- If the bleeding doesn’t stop, consult your doctor for nasal packing.
Treatment For Nosebleeds In Children
First aid may stop the nosebleed for the time being, but the nosebleed may occur again if the underlying cause is not treated. The treatment for nosebleeds depends on the cause. These tips can also help prevent nosebleeds in children.
- If your child’s nosebleed is due to nose-picking, keep your child’s fingernails short to prevent them from injuring the insides of their nose. If your child is younger, place mittens on their hands to discourage them from nose-picking.
- Use saline drops or lubricating nasal gels (liquid paraffin drops) to prevent your child’s nose from getting dry.
- Talk to your pediatrician about the usage of nasal sprays and limit their use as much as possible.
- Make sure your child uses protective gear while playing sports to protect the nose from getting injured.
Risks And Complications Of Nosebleeds in Children
While nosebleeds may seem like a serious issue, they rarely cause complications. However, posterior nosebleeds could be due to an underlying medical condition, such as a tumor or a sinus, and may cause additional complications (4).
Children who have allergies, a deviated septum, or those who live in dry and warm climates are at a higher risk of developing nosebleeds (7).
When To Call The Doctor?
Call your healthcare provider if:
- You are unable to stop the nosebleed using the tips mentioned above.
- There is an injury on the face or head.
- There is heavy bleeding.
- A foreign object is stuck in your child’s nose.
- Your child feels weak, faints, or has trouble breathing.
- The nosebleeds happen frequently (more than once a week).
Frequently Asked Questions
1. How often is too often for a nosebleed in kids?
Nosebleeds more than four times a week may be too often for children. Additionally, nosebleeds are worrisome if 30 minutes of applying direct pressure on the nose fails to stop the bleeding or the amount of bleeding has caused dizziness (8).
2. Can dehydration cause nosebleeds in kids?
3. Will nosebleeds in kids be controlled naturally?
Most nosebleeds in children may stop on their own and can also be treated with first-aid at home (10). You may ask them to lean back and keep them relaxed for a while. Remember, not to panic as it can bother the child. If the bleeding is not in control even after trying the first-aid, you may visit the doctor.
Nosebleeds in kids can be highly bothersome, but you should know that it is normal to happen at some point. It is essential to understand the causes behind the nosebleed in your child to prevent it from happening again. Also, it may be a relief to learn that it can be controlled by following a few simple steps. And if you think you may not be able to take care of it as it has gone out of control, it is best to consult a pediatrician.
- Nose picking, infections, or physical trauma are common causes of nosebleeding.
- Making your child sit in a chair with their head tilted slightly forward and placing an ice bag on the nose bridge can help stop nosebleed signs.
- If you notice heavy bleeding and the child feels weak or has trouble breathing, consult a doctor.
2. Nosebleed (Epistaxis) in Children; Johns Hopkins Medicine
3. Adil Fatakia et al.; Epistaxis: A Common Problem; The Ochsner Journal
4. Nosebleed; MedlinePlus
5. Gerald W McGarry; Recurrent epistaxis in children; ClinicalEvidence (2013)
6. Nosebleed (Epistaxis) in Children; Cedars Sinai
7. Nosebleed (Epistaxis); Harvard Health Publishing
8. Why does my child get frequent nosebleeds?; Health University of Utah
9. Hydration and sleep; Sleep Foundation
10. How to stop bloody noses in kids; Children’s Health Oran