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The nasal septum is the thin wall between the two nostrils. It has lots of sensitive blood vessels and can bleed very easily. A nosebleed happens when the septum is dry, picked at or injured. Nosebleeds in children are quite common and usually not serious.
The most common causes of nosebleeds include:
Other, less common causes of nosebleeds include:
Nosebleeds usually occur suddenly either after any direct injury to the nose or while children are sleeping.
While they can appear frightening, they are typically not painful and the bleeding is only from the front part of the nose.
Sometimes children will swallow some blood that can irritate their stomach – if they vomit they may have a small amount of red/brown blood in their vomit.
If your child has frequent nosebleeds and symptoms like easy bruising, gum bleeding, looking pale or being more tired than usual they should be seen by a doctor.
How can you help your child if they have a nosebleed?
When a child has a nosebleed it often looks like a lot of blood, but most nosebleeds are not life threatening. You can easily treat most nosebleeds at home by following these steps:
If your child’s nosebleed lasts more than 20 to 30 minutes, they should see a doctor. The doctor can look for where the bleeding is coming from. Doctors can perform nasal packing to help manage the nosebleed. Nasal packing is where gauze-like material is put in the nose to help put pressure on the blood vessels and control the bleeding. Packing is usually left in place for 24 to 48 hours and removed by a doctor.
If your child has repeated nosebleeds, they may be referred to an ENT (Ear, Nose and Throat) specialist to look in their nose and recommend different treatments to help control the problem.
Call 911 anytime you think your child may need emergency care.
Seek immediate medical attention if:
Know your options
It can be scary when your child is sick. But in most cases, you don’t need to go to the emergency department. If you’re unsure, visit ahs.ca/options to learn about the options so you can get the care you need.
The Alberta Health Services HEAL (Health Education and Learning) program was created by a team of doctors, nurses and other clinical staff who work at the Alberta Children’s Hospital and the Stollery Children’s Hospital, to support families and patients with up-to-date and useful information about common childhood health concerns. Learn more at ahs.ca/heal.
To see this information online and learn more, visit: ahs.ca/heal/page12432.aspx
Nosebleeds in children: HEAL
For 24/7 nurse advice and general health information call Health Link at 811.
Current as of: March 1, 2023
Author: Pediatric Emergency Medicine, Alberta Health Services
This material is not a substitute for the advice of a qualified health professional. This material is intended for general information only and is provided on an "as is", "where is" basis. Although reasonable efforts were made to confirm the accuracy of the information, Alberta Health Services does not make any representation or warranty, express, implied or statutory, as to the accuracy, reliability, completeness, applicability or fitness for a particular purpose of such information. Alberta Health Services expressly disclaims all liability for the use of these materials, and for any claims, actions, demands or suits arising from such use.