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The ABCs of Nosebleeds


Nosebleeds can be frightening, even though they are common and usually quite harmless. Also called epistaxis, nosebleeds occur easily because the blood vessels in the lining of the nose are close to the surface.  

Nosebleeds can occur from a variety of causes, including:

  • Any injury to the nose
  • Dry air which is more common in winter months
  • Using nasal steroid sprays
  • Medical conditions such as high blood pressure, autoimmune disorders, or tumors
  • Blood thinners

Dr. Scott Stringer, a Rhinologist at UMMC Ear, Nose and Throat emphasizes that climate conditions can contribute to nose bleeds.

Dr. Scott Stringer
Dr. Scott Stringer

“Low temperature and low humidity can make the nose work over-time”, Stringer says. “The lining of the nose dries out and tiny blood vessels break”.

Fortunately, most nosebleeds are easily managed on your own. If you or a loved one experiences a nose bleed, follow these steps for treatment:

  • Hold the head up, and slightly forward; do not tilt your head back
  • Squeeze the soft part of the nose, avoiding the bony part
  • Gently blow your nose and use a nasal spray such as Afrin®, and repeat once if necessary
  • See your medical provider if the bleeding will not stop or occurs frequently

Once the bleeding has stopped, do not touch or blow your nose as this may cause it to bleed again.  Instead, use moisture to allow the nose to heal as described below

There are steps you can take to help lower the chances of having a nosebleed.

“Moisturizing the nose with saline mist or gel helps lower the chances of having a nosebleed”, Stringer explains. “Consider using saline mist or gel to moisturize the nose.”

If your nose is extremely dry, Dr. Stringer suggests lightly dabbing petroleum jelly on the inside of the nose, then pinching gently to smear ensuring coverage towards the middle of the nose.

“Most nose bleeds occur toward the center of the nose rather than towards the cheek”, he says.

If you are experiencing frequent nosebleeds, or would like to make an appointment call UMMC Ear, Nose and Throat at 601-984-5160.