All about nosebleeds in children

Almost all nosebleeds will stop on their own.

While nose bleeds can be scary, the good news is that nosebleeds are common in children and are often not serious.

Nosebleeds (also known as epistaxis) are fairly common, especially in kids, according to a report published on website Medical News Today. And, there’s a good chance that your little one will have at least one nosebleed in the first few years of her life.

5 Common causes of nosebleeds

  1. A foreign object in the nose
  2. A sinus infection or bout of congestion from a cold (the mucous membranes inside the nose are sensitive to infections)
  3. A fall or injury (where your child might be hit in the nose). This can cause inflammation and damage to the blood vessels in the nose
  4. Frequent nose picking (this can cause the thin lining in the nasal passages to crack and split open)
  5. Extreme dry air, such as in an air-conditioned aeroplane – which could irritate the nasal passages

Although very rare, recurrent nosebleeds could be caused by:

  • Chronic sinusitis
  • Hypertension
  • Leukaemia
  • A blood clotting disorder such as haemophilia

Tips to treat a nosebleed

Almost all nosebleeds will stop on their own, but they can be messy, and rather scary, for your little one. Here are a few suggestions from ear nose and throat (ENT) specialists and authors of the Open Access Atlas of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Operative Surgery, Simone Hadjisymeou and Nico Jonas, to deal with a bloody nose:

  • Sit your child upright with her neck flexed and head bent slightly forward (to let the blood run onto a tissue or facecloth).
  • Pinch the anterior (soft) part of the nose between your thumb and index finger for a few minutes to apply pressure to the blood vessels. Try to hold it for as long as possible – and tell your little one to breathe through her mouth.
  • Apply an ice pack to the forehead and to the bridge of the nose, or place a block of ice in your child’s mouth (if she’s old enough not to choke). This will help to reduce blood flow to the nose.
  • Once the bleeding has stopped, don’t let your child run around or touch her nose for the next 12-24 hours.

When should I call the doctor?

There’s no need to rush to the doctor if your little one has a simple nosebleed. However, if your child has a head injury from a fall, is experiencing dizziness or nausea, or you notice that she has frequent or heavy nosebleeds that you can’t stop, is experiencing bruising along with the nosebleeds, or has stuck something foreign in her nose, take her to a paediatric ENT specialist right away, advise the researchers from the Johns Hopkins University in the US. Good to know: Paediatric ENT specialists are trained to find the root cause of the problem and rule out any possible complications. They will also examine and evaluate your child to get a grasp of the bigger picture.

What can I expect at the doctor’s visit?

  • Your little one’s ENT will ask for a complete medical history and you’ll have to answer questions such as, “Has your child been tested for allergies?”, “Does she have a history of sinusitis…?” etc.
  • The doctor will then perform a physical assessment (in a child-friendly manner) to rule out any structural problems with your little one’s nose. This might include special scopes, a CT scan, lab tests, or allergy tests.

How to prevent nosebleeds

Once the ENT specialist has ruled out any complications, such as diseases or allergies, a few simple measures will help to reduce the likelihood of your child having another bloody nose:

  • Keep a humidifier on in your child’s room – specifically during seasonal changes when the air is drier.
  • Use a saline nasal spray on all flights and in dry conditions to keep the nasal passages moist.
  • Teach your child to keep her fingers (and all foreign objects) out of her nose at all times and cut her fingernails short.
  • Encourage your little one to hold her hands out in front of her and protect her face and nose if she falls forward.