How to Stop a Nosebleed the
Right Way

Nosebleeds (the medical term is epistaxis) stop quickly, as they do for most people. Some, though, need medical attention.

Kids get nosebleeds more often than adults, typically either from irritating the nasal membrane with digital trauma (picking their noses) or from other external trauma (like a soccer ball in the face).

Most nosebleeds occur when a blood vessel in the nose’s soft cartilage leaks. These are called anterior nosebleeds. Posterior nosebleeds come from blood vessels higher up in the nose.

Lean Forward, Not Back

One of the biggest myths in first aid is that you should lean back with a bloody nose, but the proper treatment is to lean forward. The blood needs to go somewhere and if the patient leans back or lies down, it will most likely go down the throat.

nosebleed incorrect
nosebleed correct

Pinch the Nose (Correctly)

Most people instinctively pinch the nose during a nosebleed, but there’s a right way to do it versus a wrong way.

Pinch the nose just below the bony bridge. Place your thumb on one side of your nose and your forefinger on the other side, up near the bridge. Slowly slide them down to the sudden “drop off” where the bones give way to cartilage.

Pinch your thumb and forefinger together, and hold. The pinch should be far enough back on the sides of your nose that you can easily wiggle your nose with those pinching fingers.

Pinch with enough pressure to press both sides of your nose firmly against the septum—the cartilage in the middle of your nose. The tissue on either side of the nose puts pressure on the bleeding blood vessel, which is usually on the septum.

If the bleeding slows or stops, you are pinching in the right place. If not, start over, and pinch lower or higher.

Hold the pinch for a minimum of five minutes before you release. You may need to repeat this again for another five-minute session.

When to See the Doctor

If a nosebleed doesn’t stop after the second or third try (15 to 20 minutes of applying pressure), it’s time to see a doctor. You should also see a doctor if the bleeding was due to an injury such as a fall or a blow to the face.

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