How Can I Stop a Nosebleed?

Nosebleeds usually aren’t serious. You can treat most by yourself at home by doing the following:

  • Stay calm. If you start to get nervous, it can actually make you bleed more. Try to relax.
  • Sit up, don’t lie down. Keep your head above your heart.
  • Lean a little bit forward. This keeps the blood from draining down the back of your throat.
  • Pinch your nostrils closed. Use your thumb and index finger to hold your nostrils closed for 5 to 10 minutes while you breathe through your mouth. This puts pressure on the part of your nose that’s bleeding and can make the blood stop flowing.

Once the bleeding has stopped, do not touch or blow your nose. This may start it bleeding again. But if it does restart, blow your nose to get rid of any blood clots. You can also spray a decongestant such as oxymetazoline (Afrin, Vicks Sinex or Mucinex) in both nostrils. Then pinch your nostrils shut and breathe through your mouth for 5 to 10 minutes. At this point, call your doctor.

How to Prevent Nosebleeds

You can’t always prevent nosebleeds from happening, but there are certain things you can do to help lower your chances of getting them:

  • Keep the inside of your nose moist. Dryness can cause nosebleeds. Use a cotton swab to gently smear a thin layer petroleum jelly in your nostrils three times a day, including before you go to sleep. You can also use an antibiotic ointment like Bacitracin or Polysporin.
  • Use a saline nasal product. Spraying it in your nostrils helps keep the inside of your nose moist.
  • Use a humidifier. Your nostrils might be dry because the air in your house is dry.
  • Don’t smoke. Smoking can irritate the inside of your nose and dry it out.
  • Don’t pick your nose. Also, don’t blow or rub it too hard. If your child is getting nosebleeds, keep his fingernails short and discourage him from picking his nose.
  • Don’t use cold and allergy medications too often. These can dry out your nose. In some cases, certain medications can cause nosebleeds or make them worse. You may need to discuss your medications with your doctor. But keep taking them unless your doctor tells you to stop.
WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on January 12, 2017

Sources

SOURCES:

American Academy of Otolaryngology: “Nosebleeds”

Mayo Clinic: “Nosebleeds: First aid”

Washington University Sinus Institute: “Prevention Tips for Nosebleeds”

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