Tips for How to Stop a Nosebleed at Home

Medically Reviewed By Debra Sullivan, Ph.D., MSN, R.N., CNE, COI
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A nosebleed, or epistaxis, can happen for many reasons. It is usually not a cause for concern, and you can often stop a nosebleed at home. Nosebleeds are fairly common. They can last anywhere from a few seconds to more than 15 minutes.

This article explains how to stop a nosebleed at home. It also looks at what can cause a nosebleed and when to contact a doctor.

How do I stop a nosebleed at home?

A little girl is covering her nose.
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There are steps that you can take to stop a nosebleed at home.

Pinch your nose

Sit down and lean forward, then firmly pinch your nose. Pinch just above the nostrils, where the nose is soft.

You may need to continue pinching your nose for at least 5–10 minutes to ensure the bleeding stops.

Apply an ice pack

You can hold an ice pack or a bag of frozen peas against the bridge of your nose. Be sure not to apply anything frozen directly to your skin. Wrapping the ice pack in a towel can help.

Remain upright

Remaining in an upright position can encourage your nose to stop bleeding. This is because the upright position reduces blood pressure on the vessels in your nose compared with when you are lying down. This can help prevent further bleeding.

Other tips for managing a nosebleed

Other tips for stopping and managing a nosebleed include:

  • breathing through your mouth, as this will allow blood to drain into your nose rather than down your throat
  • avoiding picking or blowing the nose for 24 hours after a nosebleed, then using soft tissues and blowing gently
  • trying not to remove crust from inside your nose, as this can help your nose heal
  • sneezing with your mouth open to prevent your nose from bleeding again
  • refraining from tilting the head back, as this can cause the blood to flow into the stomach or lungs
  • avoiding sports or strenuous activities in the 24 hours after a nosebleed

Can I stop a nosebleed with a penny?

There is no evidence to suggest that placing a copper penny on the forehead or nose helps stop a nosebleed.

However, applying cold to the nose can restrict blood vessels, which can stop bleeding. Applying an ice pack or frozen peas to the bridge of your nose can help stop a nosebleed, too.

How do I stop a nosebleed when taking blood thinners?

Nosebleeds are a common side effect for people taking anticoagulation or blood thinning medication.

If you take blood thinning medication and experience a nosebleed, you can usually treat it at home.

However, if you experience a nosebleed that does not stop after 20 minutes, visit the emergency room or get medical care.

Also, contact your doctor or anticolagulant provider if you experience a major nosebleed or frequent nosebleeds.

It is important that you continue taking your anticoagulation medications and all medications unless instructed by a medical professional to stop taking them.

How do I stop a nosebleed fast?

The fastest way to stop a nosebleed is to pinch the soft part of your nose.

Continue to apply the pressure for up to 15 minutes, and then check to see if your nose is still bleeding.

If your nose is still bleeding, reapply pressure for another 15 minutes. If bleeding persists, get medical advice or visit the emergency room.

What are the medical treatments for a nosebleed?

Around 10% of nosebleeds will require medical treatment. Medical treatments for a nosebleed can depend on the cause of the bleed, but can include:

  • Antibiotic ointment: You can apply the ointment on the nasal septum, which is the wall between the nostrils. Antibiotic ointments are particularly effective in children and can reduce inflammation and crusting.
  • Cautery: Your doctor will spray an anesthetic into your nose. Then, they will hold a silver nitrate stick against the area of bleeding for around 10 seconds.
  • Nasal packing: In cases when your doctor cannot identify the exact site of the bleed, they may pack your nose with gauze or nasal sponges. This applies pressure to stop the blood flow. The packing may need to remain in place for around 24–48 hours, after which time a medical professional will remove them for you.

If the bleeding does not respond to treatments your doctor can provide, they may refer you to a specialist. They may recommend the following treatments for frequent or persistent nosebleeds:

  • Electrocautery: This involves a medical professional cauterizing blood vessels with an electric current running through a wire.
  • Tranexamic acid: This medication can help your blood to clot, which can reduce bleeding.
  • Ligation: This is an operation during which your surgeon will tie off the relevant blood vessels in the back of your nose.

What causes nosebleeds?

There are numerous causes of nosebleeds. In some cases, it may not be possible to identify the exact cause.

When the nosebleed begins near the nostrils, this is an anterior nosebleed. A nosebleed that begins at the back of the nose is a posterior nosebleed.

Anterior nosebleeds

Anterior nosebleeds are the most common type of nosebleeds. Around 90% of anterior nosebleeds happen in the Little’s area, which is the wall in between the nostrils.

Possible causes of anterior nosebleeds include:

  • nose picking or scratching inside it
  • forcefully blowing your nose
  • minor nose injury
  • sinusitis or infection
  • blocked nose due to a cold or flu
  • allergies such as hay fever
  • dry air or changes in temperature that dry out the nose
  • high altitude
  • excessively using nasal decongestants
  • crooked nasal septum

Posterior nosebleeds

Adults are more likely to experience a posterior nosebleed than children. In some cases, a posterior nosebleed can result in more bleeding than an anterior nosebleed, which may be more serious.

Possible causes of posterior nosebleeds include:

  • blow to the head
  • broken nose
  • recent nasal surgery
  • atherosclerosis, which refers to hardened arteries
  • medication that can make it easier to bleed, including:
    • aspirin
    • anticoagulants such as heparin and warfarin
  • nasal cavity tumor
  • blood clotting condition, such as hemophilia or von Willebrand’s disease
  • hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia, which is a genetic condition affecting blood vessels

Are there any symptoms related to nosebleeds?

If you experience any other symptoms along with a nosebleed, the symptoms can help the doctor identify the cause of the bleed.

If bleeding occurs due to a foreign object in the nose, other symptoms can include:

If your nose bleeds due to hay fever, you may experience symptoms such as:

A nose bleed can also indicate an underlying condition that affects your blood. Symptoms to look out for include:

  • tiredness
  • anemia
  • frequent infections
  • areas of bruising

Contact your doctor if you have concerns about symptoms you experience along with a nosebleed.

How common are nosebleeds?

Nosebleeds are fairly common, and can occur for a number of reasons.

People most likely to experience nosebleeds include:

  • children ages 2–10 years old
  • older adults
  • pregnant people
  • people taking blood thinners
  • people with a blood clotting condition such as hemophilia

When should I contact a doctor?

While you can often treat a nosebleed at home, in some cases, you may need to get medical advice. Contact your doctor if you:

  • regularly get nosebleeds
  • have a child under 2 years old with a nosebleed
  • take blood thinners such as warfarin
  • live with a condition such as hemophilia, when your blood does not clot properly
  • have symptoms of anemia, such as:

Go to the emergency room or get immediate medical help if you:

  • experience nose bleeds for more than 20 minutes
  • have an amount of blood emerging that seems excessive
  • swallow a lot of blood, causing you to vomit
  • experience a nosebleed after a blow to the head
  • feel dizzy or weak
  • have breathing difficulties

How is the cause of a nosebleed diagnosed?

When you have an appointment with a doctor for a nosebleed, they will look inside your nose to help them determine the cause of the nosebleed. They will also ask questions about any other symptoms you may be experiencing, and they may carry out blood tests.

Your doctor may also take your pulse and check your blood pressure.

If your doctor cannot identify the cause of bleeding by looking inside your nose, they may arrange for a nasal endoscopy. This will make it easier to identify the cause of posterior bleeding.

Are there any complications of nosebleeds?

Nosebleeds are not usually a symptom of anything serious. However, if you experience frequent nosebleeds, this can lead to complications such as anemia.

Contact your doctor if you often have nosebleeds. They will be able to carry out tests to identify any underlying cause and test for anemia.

Can I prevent nosebleeds?

There are steps that you can take to prevent nosebleeds. These include:

  • avoiding picking your nose
  • keeping your fingernails short to reduce the risk of accidentally scratching inside of your nose
  • blowing your nose gently rather than forcefully
  • wearing headgear during contact sports and other activities that might result in a blow to the nose
  • using nasal decongestants sparingly or only as stated in the instructions

Summary

A nosebleed is a fairly common condition that can last from a few seconds to more than 15 minutes, and can occur at either the front or the back of the nose.

To treat a nosebleed at home, lean forward and pinch the soft part of your nose. You can also appy ice to the bridge of your nose.

Contact your doctor if bleeding persists or if you experience frequent nosebleeds. Connect with your anticoagulant provider if you take blood thinning medication and experience nosebleeds.

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Medical Reviewer: Debra Sullivan, Ph.D., MSN, R.N., CNE, COI
Last Review Date: 2022 Jun 21
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