The bleedin’ truth

With the cooler, drier air of fall, children can experience sudden nosebleeds. Prepare yourself now so that if your little one gets red on the face, you’ll know what to do.

During the colder months, dry indoor air dehydrates youngsters’ nasal membranes, causing crusting and cracking that can lead to bleeding.

Allergies, infections, or dryness can cause an itchy nose which a youngster may respond to with vigorous nose blowing, scratching, or — yes — picking. These actions can lead to ruptures to superficial blood vessels in the nose, causing bleeding.

Some nosebleeds are hereditary. Certain blood-clotting disorders can lead to nosebleeds as do the hemorrhaging of a small blood vessel growth — similar to a birthmark — in the back of the nose. Tumors — which are rare in children — can also lead to nose bleeds.

The best way to help your child during a nosebleed is by keeping her calm. Studies have shown that a child who is agitated may actually bleed more profusely than a youngster who’s been reassured and supported.

Steps for nosebleed control

• Keep your child’s head up, higher than the level of the heart.

• Lean the youngster slightly forward so the blood won’t drain in the back of the throat.

• Using the thumb and index finger, pinch all the soft parts of the nose or place a cotton ball soaked with Afrin, Neo-Synephrine or similar spay slightly into the nostril and apply pressure between the end of the nose and the hard, bony ridge that forms the bridge of the nose.

DO NOT pack the inside of the nose with cotton or gauze.

• Apply crushed ice in a plastic bag or washcloth to the nose and cheeks.

• Hold in position for five minutes, and if it is still bleeding, hold it again for an additional 10 minutes.

If your child experiences frequent, or severe nosebleeds, I advise you to see an ears, nose and throat specialist. The specialist will use an endoscope to take a thorough look at the inside of the nose, and will make treatment recommendations.

The two most recommended treatments are to cauterize — burn the skin or flesh with a heated instrument — or use other techniques to seal the bleeding blood vessels and pack the nose.

But you can help prevent everyday, dry-air nose bleeds, by gently applying a light coating of petroleum jelly to the lining of your child’s nose. Then, use an antibiotic ointment with a cotton swab three times a day, including at bedtime.

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