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ACAAI > Patients & Public > Resources > Ask the Allergist

Ask the Allergist - Frequent Nosebleeds?

Q: My son gets frequent nosebleeds during the late spring. When he wakes up in the morning there is blood on his pillow. We have tried putting Vasoline in his nose but that doesn’t help. What can we do to prevent his nose from bleeding?

A: Nosebleeds are a common problem for children who have allergies. The bleeding happens because there are many blood vessels just inside of the nasal opening on the middle part of the nose (called the nasal septum) that can be damaged with vigorous rubbing, picking the nose or even incorrect use of nasal sprays. Nosebleeds often happen at night when one is asleep because picking and rubbing can occur without a person being aware of it. Though it can be scary when the nose bleeds a lot, it is not usually dangerous. The most effective way to stop a nosebleed is to apply pressure to the nose by pinching it closed and holding it firmly for 5 minutes. That will cause the broken blood vessel to clot and the bleeding to stop. It is not a good idea to apply Vasoline or other materials to the nose to stop the bleeding once it has started, because this won’t help and can be irritating depending on what material is applied. If the nosebleeds persist or fail to improve after a reasonable amount of pressure, consult with your doctor.

The best way to prevent nosebleeds worsened by allergies is to treat the underlying problem that is resulting in the rubbing and picking. Treatment often involves use of medicines for allergies taken either orally – such as antihistamines – or in the nose, such as nose sprays. The latter need to be used correctly or they can increase the nosebleed risk. Proper technique involves spraying away from the middle of the nose, up and out towards the ear. Saltwater (saline) nasal rinses can be very effective for removing nasal secretions and dried up mucous. It is not necessary to wait long periods after a nosebleed to use these nasal rinses as long as they are done correctly. The rinses should not be too vigorous and the bulb syringe or Netipot used to do it shouldn’t be inserted very far into the nose to avoid trauma to the blood vessels. Residual or dried blood may come out with these rinses.