Bleeding from the nose most commonly occurs when tiny blood
vessels inside the nostrils are ruptured, either by a blow to the
nose, or as a result of sneezing, picking or blowing the nose.
Nosebleeds may also occur as a result of high blood pressure.
A nosebleed can be dangerous if the casualty loses a lot of
blood. In addition, if bleeding follows a head injury, the blood
may appear thin and watery. The latter is a very serious sign
because it indicates that the skull is fractured and fluid is
leaking from around the brain.
- to control blood loss
- to maintain an open airway.
- Ask the casualty to sit down
- Advise them to tilt their head forwards to allow the blood to
drain from the nostrils
- Ask the casualty to breathe through their mouth (this will also
have a calming effect) and to pinch the soft part of the nose
- Reassure and help if necessary
- Tell the casualty to keep pinching their nose
- Advise them not to speak, swallow, cough, spit or sniff because
this may disturb blood clots that may have formed in the nose
- After 10 minutes, tell the casualty to release the pressure. If
the bleeding has not stopped, tell them to reapply the
pressure for two further periods of 10 minutes
- Once the bleeding has stopped and with the casualty still
leaning forwards, clean around their nose with lukewarm water
- Advise the casualty to rest quietly for a few hours. Tell them
to avoid exertion and in particular, not to blow their nose,
because these actions will disturb any clots.
- Do not let the head tip back; blood may run down the throat
- If bleeding stops and then restarts, tell the casualty to
- If the nosebleed is severe, or if it lasts longer than 30
minutes in total, take or send the casualty to hospital in the
These hints are no substitute for thorough knowledge of first
aid! St John Ambulance holds first aid
courses throughout the country.