A sudden gush of blood from your nose looks nothing less than a scene straight out of a horror flick. As unnerving as it may be, occasional nosebleeds are nothing to fret about. It’s only the dramatic mess involved with a pool of blood that makes people panic.
Nosebleeds, medically known as epistaxis, happen when one of the numerous blood vessels that line your inner nose bursts. A nosebleed can be anterior (occurs from a blood vessel toward the front of the nose) or posterior (occurs in the rear part of the nose). The latter is more dangerous, as the blood can drain back into the throat, causing you to choke or vomit.
However, a majority of nosebleeds are anterior in nature and arise due to trauma or an injury. Also, you may feel that you are losing a lot of blood, but a typical nosebleed does not lead to significant blood loss.
Before we delve into how to stop a nosebleed, it is important to know what can cause it and how you can prevent one.
Causes of Nosebleeds
While most nosebleeds are not serious and will stop within 10 minutes, a number of factors could lead to a nosebleed. These include:
- Any trauma or injury to the nose
- Extremely cold and/or dry climate or heated indoor air during the winter
- High blood pressure
- Picking your nose or blowing it too hard
- Excessive smoking and/or alcohol abuse
- Chemical irritants
- Blood thinning or other medications
- Upper respiratory infection
- Any bleeding or blood-clotting disorder
- Hormonal changes during pregnancy
- Tumor or cancer
Preventing a Nosebleed
If you recently had a nosebleed or suffer from them frequently, following these preventive measures can help prevent future bouts.
- Use a humidifier in your home when the air is too cold or dry.
- Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and/or use a saline nasal gel to keep the mucus membranes moist.
- Do not blow your nose forcefully.
- Avoid picking your nose to avoid injury.
- Avoid lifting anything heavy or doing any strenuous activity in the first 48 hours after a nosebleed. Excessive pressure on the body can rupture the blood vessels.
- Keep your head elevated using pillows when you go to sleep.
- Avoid smoking, as it can irritate your nasal cavity and make it dry.
- Avoid taking any anti-inflammatory or blood-thinning medication after having a nosebleed.
- Avoid using cold and anti-allergic medication too often, as they tend to dry out your nose.
Home Remedies to Stop a Nosebleed
Nosebleeds are extremely common and not life-threatening. More often than not, it can be treated easily using simple home remedies.
However, do not wait to seek medical help if you notice the following:
- If the bleeding hasn’t stopped even after 20 minutes of using any remedy.
- If the bleeding is profuse and is draining into the throat as well as out of your nose.
- If you feel light-headed and/or you experience chest pain or a faster heartbeat.
- If the bleeding is recurrent – 3 or 4 times every week or more than 6 episodes in a month.
You can use the following remedies to stop a nosebleed in less than 5 minutes.
Method 1: Ice Compress
This is the most effective first aid that you can use to stop a nosebleed. The cool temperature of an ice compress helps restrict the blood vessels to stop the bleeding immediately.
Single-Step Treatment: Place an ice compress on your nose
- Place 3 or 4 ice cubes on a flannel cloth and bundle it up.
- Sit down in a comfortable position. Sitting straight will keep your head above the level of your heart and help reduce bleeding.
- Tilt your head forward to allow the blood to drain out from your nose.
- Place the ice compress on the bridge of the nose for 2 to 3 minutes.
The ice compress will staunch the bleeding almost immediately. However, keep applying the compress for another 3 to 4 minutes to ensure that the bleeding has stopped completely.
Method 2: Cold Keys or Coins
Similar to an ice compress, any cold metal can help stop the bleeding by constricting the blood vessels. The cold metal needs to be placed on the back of the neck for it to work.
Single-Step Treatment: Place a cold key on the back of your neck
- Freeze any old key or coins for a few minutes.
- Take it out and place the metal on the back of your neck.
- Hold it until the bleeding stops.
The cold key remedy should stop the bleeding in less than 30 seconds. Repeat it again, if needed.
Method 3: Cayenne Pepper
Cayenne pepper can also be used to stop a nosebleed in less than 5 minutes. When taken orally, it helps control the blood flow in your body and promotes coagulation of blood at the site of an injury.
Single-Step Treatment: Mix cayenne pepper in warm water and drink up
- Add 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper to a glass of warm water.
- Mix well and drink it.
Cayenne pepper will stop the bleeding within 2 to 3 minutes. You can also apply cayenne pepper directly on a wound to stop the bleeding immediately.
Method 4: Squeeze It
Applying pressure on any site of bleeding gives time for the blood to coagulate and seal the ruptured blood vessel. Applying pressure on the nose by pinching it should be able to stop a nosebleed as well.
Single-Step Treatment: Pinch your nose for 10 minutes
- Sit down in a comfortable position.
- Using your thumb and forefinger, squeeze your nose just below the bony structure. Breathe through your mouth while you do this.
- Tilt your head slightly forward to prevent the blood from draining into your throat.
- Keep your nose squeezed for at least 5 minutes. You can also place a cold compress on your nose for faster relief.
- Release the nose and check for bleeding.
This remedy should stop the bleeding within 5 minutes. If needed, repeat for another 5 minutes.
Method 5: Apple Cider Vinegar
There is no denying that apple cider vinegar can cure almost anything. It has also proven effective in cases of nosebleeds. The vinegar promotes blood coagulation and seals the draining blood vessel to stop the bleeding within minutes. It can be applied topically as well as taken orally to help stop the bleeding.
Single-Step Treatment: Blot the bleeding nostril with apple cider vinegar
- Pour some apple cider vinegar on a cotton ball. You can also use white vinegar for this remedy.
- Push it slightly into the bleeding nostril. It may sting a little for a few seconds.
- Leave it for 10 minutes and the bleeding should stop.
Apple cider vinegar will stop the nose bleeding within 5 minutes of the first attempt.
If you suffer from frequent nosebleeds during seasonal changes, mix 2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar in a glass of warm water and drink it 3 times every day, especially during the colder months. This should help prevent nosebleeds. As a bonus, drinking this regularly will also help you lose weight.
Method 6: Coconut Oil
If you suffer from frequent nosebleeds during harsh weather, coconut oil can be used both as a treatment and preventive measure for a nosebleed.
Caution: Since it is a fat-based product, do not put it too deep inside your nose, as it can enter into the lungs and cause complications.
Single-Step Treatment: Coat the inside of your nose with coconut oil
- Take some coconut oil on your fingers.
- Coat the inside of your nostrils to keep them moisturized.
Coating the nostrils regularly with coconut oil will help prevent nosebleeds due to weather changes.
Method 7: Bacon
Inserting bacon up your nose is another folk remedy for treating a nosebleed. It is believed that pork contains certain properties that help the blood coagulate faster. It is especially effective for bleeding disorders.
Single-Step Treatment: Insert a bacon strip into the bleeding nose
- Roll up a strip of bacon and insert it into your bleeding nose.
- Let it work for 5 to 10 minutes.
- Remove it and the bleeding should have stopped.
Use this remedy twice a day if you suffer from any bleeding disorder. If you only have nosebleeds once in a while, you can stick to the other more convenient remedies.
Method 8: Vaseline
Vaseline can also be used to stop a nosebleed but with a word of caution. Since it is a petroleum-based product, if even the smallest quantity enters the lungs, it can lead to health troubles like pneumonia. Hence, care needs to be taken to not apply Vaseline too deep into the nose.
Single-Step Treatment: Coat the inside of your nose with Vaseline
- Take some Vaseline on your finger.
- Coat the inside of your nostrils with a thin layer. Do not go beyond ¼ inch into your nose.
- Also, do not lie down for several hours after application, to prevent the Vaseline from entering into your lungs.
Reapply Vaseline 2 or 3 times a day during dry weather to prevent dryness and nosebleeds.
Method 9: Brown Paper Bag
This method employs putting pressure on the blood vessels that supply blood to the nose. The method is effective for controlling a mild nosebleed.
Single-Step Treatment: Place a roll of brown paper below your nose
- Cut a strip out of a clean brown paper bag and roll it up.
- Push it between your gums and your upper lip area, just below the nose.
- Let it stay there for 5 to 10 minutes until the bleeding stops.
Use this remedy to stop mild nosebleeds within 10 minutes.
Method 10: Essential Oil
Essential oils are loaded with healing properties. Some of them also promote blood clotting. A combination of such essential oils used topically can stop a nosebleed almost instantly. You can mix them in some ice water and use it as a cold compress either on the bleeding nostril or the back of your neck.
Things you’ll need:
- Cypress essential oil – 2 drops
- Helichrysum essential oil – 1 drop
- Lemon essential oil – 2 drops
- Ice water – 1 cup
Step 1. Add essential oils to ice water
- Add 2 drops of cypress essential oil to 1 cup of ice water.
- Add 1 drop of helichrysum and 2 drops of lemon essential oils.
Step 2. Soak a cotton ball in the mix and apply it to the nose
- Thoroughly mix the oils into the water.
- Soak a cotton ball in the solution.
- Place the cotton ball close to the bleeding nostril. You can also place the soaked cotton ball on the back of your neck.
This remedy will stop a nosebleed in less than 5 minutes. Repeat application, if needed.
- Your body requires vitamin K for the coagulation of blood. Hence, eating more foods rich in vitamin K can help reduce the chances of nosebleeds. Increase your intake of green leafy vegetables and fruits, such as avocados, kiwis and grapes.
- If the nosebleed led to a stain on your favorite shirt, use some hydrogen peroxide to get it out.