Dry nasal passages
Dry nasal passages crust over, and when you remove that cover by blowing your nose—or sticking your finger in there (don't do it—picking carries other risks too!)—bleeding can result.
Try using a humidifier and drink plenty of fluids to help prevent nasal passages from drying out. If you need a little extra help, Dr. Shargorodsky recommends using an OTC saline nasal spray or antibiotic cream from your pharmacist, to keep the inside of your nose moist.
A blow to the nose
Colds and seasonal allergies
Prevention is the best cure, so try and limit the effect of allergies by trying these natural remedies and avoid repeatedly blowing your nose.
Chronic conditions can affect the blood's ability to clot, and they can turn a small nosebleed (one that you might not even notice) into a major event. Hemophilia is famously known for bleeding issues.
Growths in the nose
Recognize the danger
"There are a couple of varieties of nosebleed," says Dr. Shargorodsky. "One thing that matters is the location of the nosebleed. Some nosebleeds are from the front of the nose and some from the back of the nose. The ones from the front are usually the ones that drip forward."
Bleeding from trauma or dry nasal passages usually occurs at the front of the nose. This is the most immediately obvious kind of nosebleed, and while it's inconvenient, it's rarely very serious unless there's an underlying issue, such as blood thinners or problems with clotting.
Bleeding from the back of the nose can be more complicated, explains Dr. Shargorodsky: "The ones from the back of the nose sometimes cause more swallowing and spitting up blood, rather than dripping.
"The ones from the back often tend to be more severe," he adds. "The back is where the big blood vessels sit. There are lots of little blood vessels in the front, but the bigger ones are mostly in the back. So spitting up bigger blood clots, and just a higher volume of blood swallow often suggests that it's coming from the back." Nosebleeds from the back should be treated in the ER.
How to treat a nosebleed
"Just pinching the nose at the front is a good first step," recommends Dr. Shargorodsky, "Usually if it's at the front, that will stop it."
Sitting up straight may also help. Dr. Shargorodsky explains that "Sitting upright can potentially decrease the blood flow to the nose a little bit, so being upright actually helps calm things down." It helps to know how to treat a nosebleed so you can act promptly when one occurs.
But severe, prolonged, or chronic nosebleeds can be a sign of something more serious, so Dr. Shargorodsky has very clear advice: "For nosebleeds that aren't stopping, or keep happening over and over, it's important to see a doctor."