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What Causes Nosebleeds In Children And How To Stop Them?

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Nosebleed or epistaxis happens when the blood vessels or capillaries inside the nose rupture. In children, nosebleeds generally occur in the front area of the nose, which consists of many tiny blood vessels. Recurrent nosebleeds are common in children, however, parents might be worried as they can be dramatic and seem like the child is losing a lot of blood.

Nosebleeds are rarely serious in children. However, if your child experiences nosebleeds repeatedly or the nose bleeding worsens, you may have to seek your doctor’s advice.

Read this post to learn 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.

Posterior nosebleed

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.

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 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).

Nosebleeds can be scary, but often, they are normal and can be contained by following a few simple steps. However, it is important to understand the reason behind the nosebleed in your child so that you can prevent it from happening again. Also, if your child shows other symptoms, it is best to talk to your pediatrician.

References:

MomJunction's articles are written after analyzing the research works of expert authors and institutions. Our references consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.
1. Take the Pick Out of Nose Picking; Children’s Hospital Los Angeles
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

 

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Dr Bisny T. Joseph

Dr. Bisny T. Joseph is a Georgian Board-certified physician. She has completed her professional graduate degree as a medical doctor from Tbilisi State Medical University, Georgia. She has 3+ years of experience in various sectors of medical affairs as a physician, medical reviewer, medical writer, health coach, and Q&A expert. Her interest in digital medical education and patient education made... more