How to stop nosebleeds

A first aid favourite! Nosebleeds are a very common first aid presentation. Using a simple technique you can help stop a nosebleed and provide much relief to the casualty. Let’s start with a quick overview of nosebleeds

The medical term for a nosebleed is Epistaxis.

The inside of nose has an abundant blood supply to help warm and moisten air when we breath in. However, this makes it vulnerable to bleeding as the blood vessels are very close to the skin surface.

Nosebleed (Epistaxis) pictureThere are countless causes for nosebleeds, some common ones include:

  • Trauma
  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Blood thinning medication (e.g: Warfarin)
  • Foreign bodies (fingers!)
  • Inflammation (eg: after a cold)

Nosebleeds can result in significant blood loss if they are uncontrollable. Although most stop with simple first aid treatment, it is important to seek early medical help if you are unable to control a nosebleed. 

Stopping a nosebleed – first aid treatment

Step 1: Place a bowl underneath the nose of the casualty to collect the blood so you can monitor how much they’ve lost. Nosebleeds are usually unilateral, see if you can identify which side it is. Although this doesn’t make a difference for the first aid management, if a person suffers from recurrent nosebleeds on one side they could have a medical procedure to treat it.

Step 2: Ask the person to tilt their head forwards and pinch the soft part of their nose for ten minutes. Encourage them not to pick at their nose or sniff. Ask them to breath through their mouth. 

Step 3: After ten minutes release the pressure and see if the bleeding has stopped. If it hasn’t, reapply the pressure. You can also try placing something cool on the nose (ice pack etc.) to constrict the blood vessels.

Step 4: Once the bleeding has stopped, clean up any blood from around the face/mouth. Tell the person not to sneeze/pick at their nose/sniff for several hours as this could cause the bleeding to start again.

It can be very difficult to get a child to sit still and hold their nose, so try your best. In some cases you might have to hold their nose for them.

If the bleeding does not stop (after around 20 – 30 minutes), you should seek medical advice. In addition, if the cause of the nosebleed is unclear or they are recurring you should also seek advice.

A nosebleed after a head injury can be the sign of a more serious injury, therefore urgent medical assistance should be sought.

I thought someone with a nosebleed should tilt their head backwards?

A common misconception is that you should tilt head backwards. This isn’t recommended as blood will travel back down into the mouth and the stomach. This can make the casualty feel sick and vomit. 


John Furst

JOHN FURST is an experienced emergency medical technician and qualified first aid and CPR instructor. John is passionate about first aid and believes everyone should have the skills and confidence to take action in an emergency situation.

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2 Responses

  1. Happy says:

    Thank you for this first aid course.. Was very helpful.

  2. Dr D says:

    Appreciate the service that you are rendering. Your online course is a good study. i would suggest that you please keep it updated as well e:g; the ABC in CPR has now given way to CAB by AHA. Thanks.

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