It’ often helpful to review questions that patients will ask, but probably won’t show up in a textbook. Here’s a little bit about the College of Allergy which can provide you with timely information on topics such as 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. Unfortunately, it always seems like the nose bleeds more than it really does when your pillow is covered with blood. Ewwww!
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. You guessed it, antihistamines can dry out the nose increasing the risk of a nosebleed. Nose sprays can also increase the risk of a nosebleed and proper technique is very important to prevent this complication. Spray 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. 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, and that’s OK–much less chance of causing problems in the future.