How to Stop a Nosebleed

First aid tips for treating a bloody nose.

How to Stop a NosebleedPhoto: Lightwavemedia/ShutterStock


Nosebleeds are fairly common, especially in children. They usually happen as a result of a minor injury, nose-picking or blowing the nose. Very occasionally, nosebleeds can be a sign of underlying illness or injury.


Very rarely a nosebleed can be life-threatening, especially in older people. Seek medical advice if you notice any of the following:

  • * Frequent nosebleeds (more than one a week); this can be a symptom of high blood pressure.
  • * Persistent nosebleeds in a person who is on blood-thinning medication such as warfarin.
  • * Thin watery blood from the nose following a blow to the head, which can indicate a possible skull fracture.
  • * Frequent nosebleeds accompanied by bleeding gums as well as bruises that develop for no apparent reason.

Responding to a nosebleed

  1. Sit the casualty down. Help the casualty to sit down. Tell her to lean forward (she should not lean back) so that the blood can drain.
  2. Pinch the nose. Tell the casualty to breathe through her mouth and pinch the soft part of her nose to help reduce blood flow. She can lean over a sink or give her a bowl so that she can spit out any blood; swallowing it can make her sick. Advise her not to sniff, swallow or cough as it can disturb the clots that are forming. (A very young child may not be able to pinch her nose for long enough. Help her to sit forward and pinch her nose for her. Reassure her, get her to spit into a bowl and wipe her face.)
  3. Check the nose. After 10 minutes, release the pressure and check the nose. If it is still bleeding, pinch the nose again for another 10 minutes.
  4. Offer a cold compress. Give the casualty an ice or cold pack to hold against the bridge of her nose to help reduce the blood flow.
  5. Check the nose again. Once bleeding has stopped, let the casualty clean around her nose with a damp cloth. Tell her not to blow her nose and to avoid strenuous activity for up to 12 hours.

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