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Nosebleed quick look
This chart rates treatment options according to general effectiveness, ease of use, side effects and safety.
Legend:     Excellent  Very Good  Good  Fair  Poor  Not available 
First Choice
Treatment Overall Score Effective-
ness
Safety Ease
of Use
Side
Effects
Comments
Apply pressure to the nose
(Grasping and pinching the entire nose)
 

Very good 
 
 
 
 
Treatment of choice for an active nosebleed. Recommended by experts. Can be done at home. Safe. Effective for the majority of nosebleeds.
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Apply pressure to the nose

For simple nosebleeds, experts recommend applying pressure to the nose as the most effective treatment. 90% of nosebleeds will stop in a few minutes with pressure.

Pressure is applied by pinching the soft part of the nostrils together while in a sitting position, and leaning forward.

Some people mistakenly apply pressure to the hard, bony part of the nose; be sure that you pinch the softer portion below the wider bone mid-way up the nose.

 
Avoid trauma/injury to the nose (especially "nose-picking")
(Prevention)
 

Very good 
 
 
 
 
No available data, but experts believe that avoiding (further or additional) trauma to the nose can significantly decrease the chance of nosebleeds in some people.
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Avoid trauma/injury to the nose (especially "nose-picking")

Nose bleeds may be caused by irritation to the lining of the nose from nose picking, forceful nose-blowing or other injury. An irritated lining can become infected which can also increase the chance of bleeding.

Certain drugs such as cocaine can irritate the lining of the nose and cause nosebleeds.

Chronic allergies with nasal congestion and irritation can increase the chance of developing nosebleeds. Treatment of these allergies, often with steroid nasal sprays, can decrease the risk of nosebleeds.

Direct trauma to the nose (such as in a fight or in sports) that is associated with bleeding should usually be evaluated and treated by a doctor as soon as possible.

 
Antiseptic cream (chlorhexidine/neomycin cream)
(Prevention)
 

Good 
 
 
 
 
For frequently recurring (repeated) nosebleeds. Studies suggest that antiseptic cream may be effective for preventing nosebleeds in people with frequently recurring nosebleeds. Do not use for individuals with peanut allergies.
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Antiseptic cream (chlorhexidine/neomycin cream)

A small number of studies have found that antiseptic cream (chlorhexidine/neomycin cream - an anti-bacterial cream), applied to the inside of the nose twice daily for 4 weeks, was effective in decreasing the number of nosebleeds in children with a history of frequent nosebleeds.

One study found that antiseptic cream was as effective for preventing nosebleeds as cautery (a procedure in which the blood vessels of the nose are burned shut with either a substance called silver nitrate, an electrical impulse, or a laser beam).

Some commercially available antiseptic creams contain peanut oil (arachis) and should not be used for individuals who are allergic to peanuts.

Children may find the taste or smell of antiseptic creams unpleasant.

 
Sit up and tilt head forward during nosebleeds
(Treatment of Nosebleeds)
 

Fair 
 
 
 
 
Recommended by most experts. Considered effective. Safe.
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Sit up and tilt head forward during nosebleeds

Sitting or standing, rather than lying down, decreases the amount of blood flowing to the nose and may decrease bleeding.

Tilting your head forward allows the blood to run out of the nose, rather than down the back of the throat. Swallowing too much blood can cause vomiting.

Conclusive data about effectiveness is not available.

Lying down is recommended, however, for the rare case in which very heavy bleeding causes symptoms of significant blood loss such as light-headedness or feeling faint.

 
Apply anti-drying ointment to the nose (Vaseline, petroleum jelly)
(Prevention)
 

Fair 
 
 
 
 
No data available. Recommended by some experts to keep the nose moist during the winter-time and in dry conditions. For recurring nosebleeds. Considered safe.
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Apply anti-drying ointment to the nose (Vaseline, petroleum jelly)

Nosebleeds occur more commonly in dry climates and during the winter months when heating systems remove the moisture from air. Experts believe that keeping the lining of the nose from becoming excessively dry and cracked may decrease the chance of developing nosebleeds.

Many experts recommend the frequent use of lubricants such as Vaseline, applied to the inside of the nose, to prevent nosebleeds.

 

Legend:     Excellent  Very Good  Good  Fair  Poor  Not available 
Other Options
Treatment Overall Score Effective-
ness
Safety Ease
of Use
Side
Effects
Comments
Humidifier
(Prevention)
 

Good 
 
 
 
 
No data available. Recommended by some experts. Considered safe.
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Humidifier

Nosebleeds occur more commonly in dry climates and during the winter months when heating systems remove the moisture from air.

Many experts recommend the use of a humidifier, especially during the winter months, to prevent nosebleeds.

Conclusive data about effectiveness is not available.

 
Cautery and Packing  

Good 
 
 
 
 
Often recommended for frequently recurring nosebleeds or nosebleeds do not stop with other treatments.

Some people may be able to avoid getting to this stage by using preventive measures outlined above.

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Cautery and Packing

Cautery is a procedure in which the blood vessels of the nose are burned shut with either a substance called silver nitrate, an electrical impulse, or with a laser beam. This procedure may be used for individuals who have frequently recurring nosebleeds or for people with nosebleeds that fail to resolve with other treatments.

Sometimes the nose is packed with a special material after cautery to put pressure on the blood vessels and stop bleeding.

Recent study data suggests that the use of an antiseptic cream may be as effective as cautery for preventing nosebleeds.

 
Saline (salt water) nasal drops or sprays
(Prevention)
 

Fair 
 
 
 
 
No data available. Recommended by some experts to keep the nose moist during the winter-time or in dry conditions. Considered safe.
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Saline (salt water) nasal drops or sprays

Nosebleeds occur more commonly in dry climates and during the winter months when heating systems remove the moisture from air.

Many experts recommend a trial of (saline) nasal drops inside of the nose, especially at night, to prevent nosebleeds.

Conclusive data about effectiveness is not available.

 
Over-the-counter nasal sprays (Afrin/oxymetazoline, Neo-Synephrine/phenylephrine, Dristan/phenylephrine & pheniramine, etc.)
(Treatment of Nosebleeds)
 

Fair 
 
 
 
 
No data available. Recommended by some experts if re-bleeding occurs. Considered safe.
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Over-the-counter nasal sprays (Afrin/oxymetazoline, Neo-Synephrine/phenylephrine, Dristan/phenylephrine & pheniramine, etc.)

Some experts recommend using over-the-counter nasal sprays (such as Afrin or Neo-Synephrine, Dristan, more) if re-bleeding occurs (for recurring nosebleeds). These types of nasal sprays cause blood vessels to narrow and, in theory, could decrease bleeding. These sprays should be used cautiously, if at all, for people who also have high blood pressure.

Typically, the medication is sprayed into both nostrils. Then, cotton soaked in the nasal spray is inserted into the affected nostril and pressed against the bleeding area.

Scientific studies have not been performed to evaluate the benefits of this treatment and conclusive data about effectiveness is not available.

 
Limit spicy/hot foods after a nosebleed
(Treatment of Nosebleeds)
 

Poor 
 
 
 
 
No data available. Some experts recommend limiting hot/spicy foods for a day after a nosebleed to decrease the chance of re-bleeding. Considered safe.
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Limit spicy/hot foods after a nosebleed

Some experts recommend avoiding anything that might increase the chance of re-bleeding right after a nosebleed, for those people who tend to re-bleed.

Hot and spicy foods tend to increase blood flow to small blood vessels like the ones in the nose. In theory, avoiding hot or spicy foods for a day after a nosebleed could decrease the chance of re-bleeding.

Conclusive data about effectiveness is not available.

 
Limit heavy lifting, straining, bending over, blowing nose after a nosebleed
(Treatment of Nosebleeds)
 

Poor 
 
 
 
 
No data available. Some experts recommend limiting heavy lifting, straining, bending over, and blowing nose for a day after a nosebleed to decrease the chance of re-bleeding. Considered safe.
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Limit heavy lifting, straining, bending over, blowing nose after a nosebleed

Some experts recommend avoiding anything that might increase the chance of re-bleeding right after a nosebleed, for those people who tend to re-bleed.

Heavy lifting, straining, bending over, or blowing the nose can increase the blood supply and pressure in the nose and, theoretically, increase the chance of re-bleeding.

Conclusive data about effectiveness is not available.

 
Limit hot showers after a nosebleed
(Treatment of Nosebleeds)
 

Poor 
 
 
 
 
No data available. Some experts recommend limiting hot showers for a day after a nosebleed to decrease the chance of re-bleeding. Considered safe.
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Limit hot showers after a nosebleed

Some experts recommend avoiding anything that might increase the chance of re-bleeding right after a nosebleed, for those people who tend to re-bleed.

Heat tends to increase blood flow to small blood vessels like the ones in the nose. In theory, avoiding hot showers for a day after a nosebleed could decrease the chance of re-bleeding.

Conclusive data about effectiveness is not available.

 

Legend:     Excellent  Very Good  Good  Fair  Poor  Not available 
Insufficient Evidence
Treatment Overall Score Effective-
ness
Safety Ease
of Use
Side
Effects
Comments
Allergy treatment  

Not available 
 
 
 
 
Allergy treatment is recommended by some experts for people with allergies who have frequently recurring nosebleeds.

Conclusive data about effectiveness is not available.

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Allergy treatment

Chronic allergies with nasal congestion and irritation can increase the chance of developing nosebleeds. Allergy treatment may decrease the chance of recurring nosebleeds for some individuals. The treatment used will often be steroid nasal sprays.

Conclusive data about effectiveness is not available.

 

 
     
NOTE: Just because a drug or combination of drugs can cause a symptom does not mean it is actually causing your symptom. Symptoms can be caused by medical conditions as well. Make sure that your physician is aware of any symptoms you are experiencing so he/she can work with you to determine the cause. Please DO NOT STOP MEDICATIONS without first consulting a physician since doing so could be hazardous to your health.
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