What Are the Causes of Nose Bleeds in Children?

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Nose bleeds are normal in healthy children, but some may experience nose bleeds more frequently than others. While the condition is relatively easy to treat, encouraging healthy habits may help reduce the frequency of nose bleeds for your child.

Boy with a nose bleed
Boy with a nose bleed (Image: Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Causes of Nose Bleeds in Children

A nose may begin to bleed when one of the small veins lining the nose bursts or ruptures. Generally, this is caused by normal child behavior such as picking the nose, blowing into a tissue too hard or trauma to the nose during play. The vein also may rupture if the child has something located in the interior of the nose. Occasionally, a dry climate like a house or classroom using an air-conditioning unit or heater may cause the nose cannel to dry out, resulting in a nose bleed.

Child's nose
Child's nose (Image: BananaStock/BananaStock/Getty Images)

Frequency in Nose Bleeds

Those who may experience nose bleeds more frequently than others may be due to the fact that some have veins located more closely to the mucous membrane of their nose. Veins that are close to the skin are more likely to burst when provoked or touched. If this is the cause for your child's nose bleeds, a simple procedure that cauterizes the front of the nose may be performed by a doctor. An additional cause for more frequent nose bleeds is the child's behavior. If the child is excessively picking his nose, he may be irritating the lining of the nose. To minimize nose bleeds, cut the child's fingernails frequently to discourage picking, and apply petroleum jelly to the nose nightly to hydrate the breathing canals.

Nose picker
Nose picker (Image: Medioimages/Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Treatment of Nose Bleeds in Children

As soon as the child begins to experience a nose bleed, have the child sit up. Either hold the child's nose or, if the child is old enough, encourage him to hold his own nose. The grip should be firm and applied to the lower, softer area of the nose between the thumb and forefinger. Holding the nose applies pressure directly to the bleeding vein and encourages the site of the bleeding to coagulate. Although some doctors recommend that a child lie down during a nose bleed, this movement increases blood pressure in the head, sending more blood to the nose. Apply pressure to the nose for approximately 10 minutes. Because this experience can be very traumatic for the child, who may believe something is seriously wrong with their health, it is essential to remind the child that nose bleeds are common and nothing to be concerned about. Instructing the child to watch television or listen to a book read aloud may help distract the child.

Treating a nose bleed
Treating a nose bleed (Image: Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Nose Bleed Prevention

To prevent nose bleeds in children, encourage healthy behavior, including discussions about why nose picking is bad. Trimming the child's nails may also discourage nose picking. In addition, monitor your child to make sure no objects are inserted in the nose canals, and encourage healthy play where injuries to the nose are avoided. A humidifier may also be used in a child's bedroom or playroom if the air is dry.

Cutting child's finger nails
Cutting child's finger nails (Image: Thinkstock/Comstock/Getty Images)

Expert Insight

Although nose bleeds are a normal condition for healthy children, it is important to know when to contact a child's physician. If the bleeding is excessive and cannot be controlled, or if you suspect the nose is broken, it is essential to contact a physician immediately. A doctor also should be notified if the child has trouble breathing or if the bleeding originates elsewhere, such as the nose or gums. Finally, the doctor should be called if you suspect a foreign object is stuck in the nose and cannot be removed.

Waiting to see the doctor
Waiting to see the doctor (Image: Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images)

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