They tend to occur at the most inopportune moments, and the sudden gushing of blood from your face can be both embarrassing and frightening, especially since a small amount can seem like liters when it’s soaking tissue after tissue with crimson. Don’t panic. Usually you can halt a nosebleed—and save face—in a matter of minutes.
Here are some effective ways to do it.
Pinch, press and spray
1. The simplest remedy for a bloody nose is the time-honored pinch cure.
Sit up straight with your head tilted slightly forward (to keep the blood from running down your throat). Gently blow out any clots that could prevent a vessel from sealing. Then pinch the soft part of your nose and press firmly toward your face. Hold that position for at least 10 minutes.
2. Tired of pinching? Use a clothespin.
3. Still dripping? Wad up a small piece of tissue or gauze
Then stick it between your gums and upper lip in the area right under your nose. Leave it there for 5 to 10 minutes. The tissue puts pressure on the blood vessels that are sending blood to your nose. There are countless versions of this remedy—pouring vinegar, witch hazel, or lemon juice on the tissue; using a small square of brown paper from a bag sprinkled with salt; even placing a dime or a small, flat button under your upper lip instead of a tissue.
4. Apply an ice pack alongside the bleeding nostril.
The cold narrows the blood vessels in the nose to slow the spurting.
5. If your nose still doesn’t stop dripping, sniff some nasal spray.
Like ice, it will constrict the vessels in your nose, stanching the flow of blood.
The power of prevention
- If you want to avoid nosebleeds, keep your mucous membranes moist by drinking eight 250-mL glasses of water a day. You are well hydrated if your urine is pale, not dark.
- Don’t overdo the AC. Air-conditioning dries out the air, leaving you more prone to nosebleeds.
- In winter, add moisture indoors by running a humidifier.
- Dab the insides of your nose with petroleum jelly, or spritz your nostrils liberally with a saline nasal spray. Either method will help keep nostrils moist. This approach is helpful if you’re about to take a plane flight, if you’ve just recovered from a cold or sinus infection, or if you live in a very dry climate.
- Watch your aspirin intake. Aspirin can interfere with blood clotting, and of course that’s not a good thing if you get frequent nosebleeds.
- If you have nasal allergies, treat them promptly. Between the constant irritation caused by allergens and the damage done by blowing your nose, nasal membranes take a real beating when you’re having an allergic reaction.
- If you often have trouble with nosebleeds, take 1,000 to 1,200 milligrams of vitamin C every day to help prevent them. Vitamin C helps strengthen capillary walls and is also a vital component of collagen, a substance that gives your nostrils a moist, protective lining. Along with vitamin C, take 500 milligrams daily of a bioflavonoid supplement such as grape-seed extract, pine-bark extract, pycnogenol, or proanthocyanins. Flavonoids are known to heal capillaries.