Nosebleeds occur frequently in children and have many causes. The most common cause is nose picking. Other causes include colds, allergies, sinusitis, and exposure to very dry air, especially in heated homes in winter. Nosebleeds are very common at high altitudes because of the dry, cold air.
When you suction your infant’s nose with a bulb aspirator (to help clear the nasal passages), a small amount of bleeding may occur.
- If the air in your home is too dry, use a humidifier and try to keep the humidity around 40 percent. Remember, if your house or bedroom has high humidity for prolonged periods, you will encourage the growth of molds and replication of house dust mites, which in turn may lead to allergies.
- Use saltwater (saline) nose drops frequently while traveling. The dry air of the aircraft cabin and dusty air while traveling on country roads will lead to a dry and stuffy nose. Each person should have their own bottle of saline drops.
- If your child has repeated nosebleeds, coat the lower part of the nasal septum (the part of the nose dividing each nostril) twice a day with a petroleum jelly (e.g., Vaseline).
- Discourage nose picking.
Have your child sit up, lean forward, and breathe through the mouth. Pinch the soft fleshy part of the nose tightly closed for about 10 minutes. (Hold a basin under the chin to catch any blood or mucus that drips through the mouth.) After the nosebleed has stopped, instruct your child not to pick his nose or to blow it too vigorously, otherwise the bleeding may restart.
- If your child’s nose continues to bleed after applying pressure to the nose for 20 minutes. (If you do not have access to medical care and you have nasal decongestant nose drops such as Neosynephrine or oxymetazoline [Afrin], use these, as they constrict blood vessels and will often help to stop the nosebleed. You may need to use two or three times the recommended dose to stop the bleeding. Never use nasal decongestant drops or sprays for longer than five days.)
- If your child has a foul-smelling or bloody discharge from one nostril for some days. This may be due to a foreign body up the nose.
- If your child has a tendency to bleed in other areas as well—for example, from the gums or into the skin.
- If your child gets recurrent nosebleeds despite using preventive measures.