stop the flow
Many people think that you should treat a nosebleed by packing the nose with gauze. However, doctors recommend against putting gauze (or anything else) inside the nose. You may want to have a handkerchief, washcloth, or other towel available to wipe up blood. Instead of putting gauze in the nose, apply pressure externally with thumb and forefinger to stop the bleeding.
Using Pressure to Treat a Nosebleed
- Initially, pinch the soft parts of the nose together using your thumb and forefinger. Press firmly toward the face.
- Lean forward slightly so that the blood can run out of the nose, rather than running back into the sinuses and throat, where you might gag or inhale it.
- Sit quietly, holding the nose for at least five minutes (some practitioners recommend ten). Keep the head higher than the level of the heart -- do not lie down flat or put your head between your legs.
- If you wish, wrap ice in a towel and apply it to nose and cheeks.
- Alternatively, you can apply cold compresses to the outside of the nose. Do NOT try to put ice or cold compresses, or even plain dry gauze, inside the nostrils.
Why It Works
Applying pressure is a basic part of first aid for any bleeding wound, including a nosebleed. Pressure stops blood from flowing freely, so that it can instead pool, coagulate, and form clots.
Some people get nosebleeds much more easily than others. A nosebleed is usually not a serious health issue or reason for concern, but if you get regular, frequent nosebleeds, it is a good idea to mention the nosebleeds to your doctor. Some prescription medicines can increase the likelihood of nosebleeds, and so can certain health conditions, such as high blood pressure, tumors, inherited bleeding problems, and alcohol abuse.
Nosebleeds are more common when nasal membranes are dry and cracked. If you get frequent nosebleeds, you may also want to consider using a humidifier at night or moistening the nasal membranes with a saline (saltwater) spray or mist, or with a nasal irrigator or neti pot. Children who get nosebleeds often cry. Although you should always comfort a crying child, you may want to let the child know that his or her tears will actually help the nosebleed to heal, by irrigating the nose with saltwater.