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First Aid for Nosebleeds

Last updated Aug. 29, 2017

Approved by: Maulik P. Purohit MD, MPH

Learn how to treat a nosebleed in this first aid video from Howcast with Nurse Mary.


Severe Nosebleeds should be evaluated by a trained medical professional, as soon as possible! DO NOT wait! Failure to obtain evaluation as soon as possible may result in serious injury or death. Call 911 (or your local emergency number) immediately, if you are experiencing a severe nosebleed

What is Nosebleeds?

  • A Nosebleed is the result of rupture in a blood vessel in the nose. It is commonly triggered by cold and dry conditions and usually involves only one nostril at a time
  • Nosebleeds are more often seen in elderly adults and adolescent children. In most cases, the condition can be treated at home with the aid of tissues, a cold (ice) pack, and by leaning forward

What are the Causes of Nosebleeds?

The causes of Nosebleeds include:

  • Common cold
  • Seasonal allergies, causing irritation
  • High blood pressure
  • Nose picking
  • Dry weather and extremely cold winter
  • Injuries
  • Use of illegal drugs, such as cocaine
  • Use of blood-thinning medications, like aspirin and warfarin (Coumadin), may worsen nosebleeds

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Nosebleeds?

The signs and symptoms of Nosebleeds include the following

  • Bleeding from the nose, commonly from one nostril
  • With excessive bleeding, an individual may spit up or vomit blood, due to blood dripping in the back of the throat
  • Excessive, heavy, and repetitive bleeding may cause lightheadedness, dizziness, and fainting

How is First Aid administered for Nosebleeds?

First Aid tips for Nosebleeds include:

  • Stay calm
  • Sit upright and lean forward
  • Pinch your nose with the index finger and thumb, for about 10 minutes
  • Do not release pressure (within the 10 minute period), to check if bleeding has stopped

Once the bleeding is controlled:

  • Avoid blowing your nose, or picking the nose for 1-2 days
  • Try to keep your head above the heart level, for several hours (4-6 hours)
  • Avoid bending down
  • If it starts bleeding again, try to re-apply pressure and control it. You may also try decongestant nasal sprays, like Afrin (Oxymetazoline)

Seek medical help if:

  • Bleeding continues for over 20 minutes
  • Nosebleeds occur very often
  • Nosebleed is caused by a head or facial trauma
  • You are on a blood-thinner (anticoagulant), such as aspirin or warfarin (Coumadin)
  • You are feeling lightheaded or dizzy

Who should administer First Aid for Nosebleeds?

The person experiencing a Nosebleed himself/herself or someone near to the individual, may administer First Aid.

What is the Prognosis of Nosebleeds?

The prognosis is usually good, unless the Nosebleed is associated with trauma or other underlying bleeding disorders.

How can Nosebleeds be Prevented?

A few helpful tips to prevent Nosebleeds:

  • Use a humidifier (to increase humidity of the space), during dry weather conditions
  • Avoid picking your nose
  • May use Vaseline gel or other nasal moisturizing sprays
  • Avoid smoking

What are certain Crucial Steps to be followed?

  • Staying upright and applying pressure continuously for 10 minutes
  • Appropriate and timely medical help, if Nosebleeds are accompanied by conditions listed above

What are some Useful Resources for Additional Information?

References and Information Sources used for the Article:

Helpful Peer-Reviewed Medical Articles:

Reviewed and Approved by a member of the DoveMed Editorial Board
First uploaded: May 27, 2013
Last updated: Aug. 29, 2017