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Nosebleeds (Epistaxis)

Nosebleeds can be a scary occurrence, but are usually not dangerous. The medical term for nosebleed is epistaxis. They are fairly common in children, especially in dry climates or during the winter months when dry heat inside homes and buildings can cause drying, cracking, or crusting inside the nose. Many times, children outgrow the tendency for nosebleeds during their teenage years.

The front part of the nose contains many fragile blood vessels that can be easily damaged. Most nosebleeds in children occur in the front part of the nasal septum close to the nostrils.

What causes a nosebleed?

Nosebleeds are caused by many factors, but some of the most common causes include the following:

Many times no apparent cause for a nosebleed can be found.

First-aid for nosebleeds

When should I call my child's physician?

Specific treatment for nosebleeds that require more than minor treatment at home will be determined by your child's physician. In general, call your child's physician for nosebleeds if:

Prevention of nosebleeds

If your child has frequent nosebleeds, some general guidelines to help prevent nosebleeds from occurring include the following:

Occasionally there are clotting problems that can contribute to nosebleeds. Your child's physician can help test for these rare disorders.

Nasal Cautery

In instances of frequent or severe nose bleeds, your physician may recommend cauterization in the office or operating room. If Nasal Cautery is performed in the operating room, it is done under general anesthesia. The surgeon will use an instrument that will either pass electricity or apply a chemical to burn the area of the nosebleeds. This will cause the area to scab and scar. This allows the healing membranes to thicken which prevents further nosebleeds.

Discharge instructions

Please review Discharge Instructions: Nasal Cautery from The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

Reviewed by: Steven D. Handler, MD, MBE
Date: April 2009

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