Lewis First, MD, is chief of Pediatrics at The University of Vermont Children’s Hospital and chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the Robert Larner, M.D. College of Medicine at the University of Vermont.

Lewis First, MD, is chief of Pediatrics at The University of Vermont Children’s Hospital and chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the Robert Larner, M.D. College of Medicine at the University of Vermont.

With Valentine’s Day here, parents have been seeing red – not just in their children’s valentines, but from the blood that can come from their child’s nose when they have a nosebleed.  Hmm, “the clot thickens” so to speak, so let me provide some information on this topic.

Nosebleeds are probably as common as the common cold and are usually caused by nasal passages being exposed to dry air during the winter season or recurrent colds and allergies.  All of these factors contribute to making the inside lining of the nose quite raw, cracked and crusted, allowing blood vessels to come to the surface of the nasal lining and lead to bleeding. 

Most nosebleeds can easily be managed at home.  If one occurs, first stay calm and reassure your child that the bleeding will stop.  Then simply apply direct pressure to the soft part of the nose with the child sitting up and their head leaning forward so they are less apt to swallow the blood and don’t release that pressure until 10 minutes have elapsed.  A cold compress or ice pack to the nose can also speed up stoppage of the bleeding.  Following applying pressure to the nose, it is not a good idea to blow the nose or it will disturb the new clot that has successfully formed.

How can you prevent nosebleeds from occurring?  Humidifying the air in your home will help, as will applying Vaseline to the inside of the nose to keep the lining moist and prevent dryness and irritation.  Picking the nose will also not improve the situation, so remember to keep fingernails short if your children do pick.  Remind your child they can pick their friends, but they should not pick their nose or their friend’s nose.  

When should you worry about a nosebleed? 

  • When the bleeding is occurring through both nostrils
  • When the bleeding continues for over fifteen minutes
  • When bleeding appears heavy and is accompanied by dizziness or weakness or is the result of a fall or blow to the head
  • When prolonged bleeding also occurs from other areas like the gums or from a cut elsewhere
  • When nosebleeds happen a few times a week

When any of the above happen, contact your child’s health care professional, who will want to examine your child’s nose and, if necessary, perform some additional tests.

Hopefully tips like this will stop up any concerns you have and prevent you from seeing red the next time you are worried about your child’s nose bleeds. 

Lewis First, MD, is chief of Pediatrics at The University of Vermont Children’s Hospital and chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the Robert Larner, M.D. College of Medicine at the University of Vermont.  You can also catch “First with Kids” weekly on WOKO 98.9FM and WPTZ Channel 5, or visit the First with Kids video archives at www.UVMHealth.org/MedCenterFirstWithKids.

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