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Frequent nosebleeds in children

It is common for children to get nosebleeds.

Most nosebleeds get better on their own and are not a cause for concern.

In rare cases, a nosebleed may be a symptom of a more serious problem, such as an injury to the head. Urgent medical advice is needed if the bleeding is thin and watery and the child has other symptoms, such as being confused, drowsy, has nausea or is vomiting.

Also, if a child suffers from frequent nosebleeds, seek medical advice.

Causes of nosebleeds in children

Children get more nosebleeds than adults, because the blood vessels in the nasal lining of young noses are more fragile, are close to the surface and can rupture more easily.

A child's nosebleed can be triggered by a bump on the nose while playing, sneezing violently or often from picking their nose.

Treating a child's nosebleed

Some steps which may help a child's nosebleed are:

  • Get them to sit with their head tilted forward (never backwards) and to breathe through their mouth.
  • Place a bowl under the nose and give the child tissues or a cloth.
  • Get older children to pinch the soft front part of their nose for 10 minutes. You may have to do this yourself with younger children. After 10 minutes, release the pressure. If the nosebleed hasn't stopped, repeat the procedure for another 10 minutes. An ice pack wrapped in a cloth may help.
  • If a child's nosebleed does not stop after 20 minutes, take them to A&E to be checked.
  • Gently clean the area after the bleeding has stopped.

If medical treatment is needed for a nosebleed, cauterising the bleed using heat or a little silver nitrate may be recommended. After this treatment, the nose is packed with gauze, that will be removed at a later stage by a doctor or nurse who can check the nose again.

Children with frequent nosebleeds

Frequent nosebleeds, more than twice a week, may be the sign of another problem.

One common side effect of nose picking is damage to blood vessels in the cartilage dividing the nostrils, called the septum.

Doctors can also check the nose for any infections that may need to be treated with antibiotic ointment.

In rare cases, nosebleeds may be due to an undiagnosed bleeding disorder, which can run in families. Blood tests and screening may be recommended.

A child with recurring nosebleeds may be referred to a specialist ear, nose and throat (ENT) surgeon.

Preventing nosebleeds

Children normally grow out of having nosebleeds, but to help prevent them, discourage nose picking and ask children not to blow their noses too hard.

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WebMD Medical Reference

Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks on November 05, 2014

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