Chronic nosebleeds

Why does my 7-year-old daughter regularly get bloody noses during the colder months? She’s the only one in the family who gets nosebleeds, even though I run two humidifiers and a vaporizer during the winter, and rub a cream inside her nose that her doctor recommended. I’m wondering if she damaged her nose when she fell and hit it last year, although the doctors said she didn’t.

Bloody noses are common among children from the ages of 6 to 10. For the most part, they’re mild, infrequent and easily remedied at home.

Nosebleeds are often brought on by colds or allergies, which cause the mucus membranes in the nose to become inflamed and to bleed easily. Add to this a dry environment, vigorous nose blowing, and a little nose picking, and you have a recipe for a nosebleed.

So far, you’re doing the right thing for your daughter. Most children with infrequent nosebleeds can be treated at home by increasing humidity in your home with a humidifier or vaporizer, particularly in the child’s bedroom. Discourage nose picking, but keep in mind that kids even do it in their sleep. As your doctor recommended, continue to keep your daughter’s mucosa moist: One at-home trick is to use a cotton-tipped applicator to rub a little petrolatum just inside your daughter’s nose, along the nasal septum, twice a day for about a week. After that, apply it just before she goes to bed.

If your daughter complains of a dry or crusty nose, can use two or three drops of plain saline nose drops in each side of her nose, as often as necessary. If she has allergy symptoms, ask your pediatrician about using an antihistamine and possibly a decongestant to control the symptoms of an itchy, runny, stuffy nose.

If, despite all your precautions, your child does get a nosebleed, don’t panic. Have her sit up and lean forward so the blood runs out of her nose and she doesn’t swallow it. Pinch her nose firmly to put pressure on the bleeding site – usually the front part of her nasal septum – for a full 10 minutes. Don’t be tempted to “peek” earlier or the bleeding will start up again. If the bleeding doesn’t stop, it’s usually because you aren’t applying pressure to the right spot. For instance, holding the hard bridge of her nose will not be effective, so reposition your fingers. If the bleeding still doesn’t stop, call your physician.

You’ll also want to visit your pediatrician if a child has recurrent nosebleeds that last more than 20 minutes, bleeds for more than 20 minutes from procedures such as circumcision or tooth extraction, bruises easily, or has a family history of a bleeding disorder. Sometimes, a nosebleed signals another problem.

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