Winter is the season of dry air. Due to the cold temperatures and excess heat inside homes and buildings, the amount of dry air increases, as does the likelihood of getting a nosebleed. When the air is dry, it affects our skin, our hair, our immune system, and can cause nosebleeds. The inner nose is comprised of tons of tiny blood vessels. These blood vessels are what allow the nose to detect smells, tastes and other sensations. These blood vessels also happen to get irritated easily, which can then lead to bleeding.
Nosebleeds are categorized into two different types: anterior and posterior. Anterior nosebleeds are the more common type and come from the front part of the nose. They begin with a flow of blood out of one nostril. Posterior nosebleeds are rarer and begin high and deep within the nose. They flow down the back of the mouth and throat. A posterior nosebleed is generally more severe and will not respond to simply applying pressure on the nose. Posterior nosebleeds are more likely to occur in older people, people with high blood pressure, and in cases of injury to the nose or face.
Anterior nosebleeds are very common in the winter months, but there are steps you can take to reduce them. If your face or nose feels dry, use a cotton swab to gently apply a thin layer of petroleum jelly inside your nostrils up to three times a day. You can also spray a saline nasal product inside your nostrils to help keep the inside of your nose moist. Using a humidifier in your bedroom is a great way to keep your room from getting too dry while you sleep. These preventative steps could help reduce the chance of getting a nosebleed. Make sure to not rub or pick your nose, as that could irritate it further.
If you get an anterior nosebleed, follow these steps to stop it: first, stay calm. The site of blood can be alarming, but staying as relaxed as possible can actually help minimize the amount of blood that comes out of your nose. Pinch the soft parts of the nose together between your thumb and index finger. You could also soak a cotton ball with Afrin nasal spray and place it into the nostril. Next, press firmly but gently towards the face, compressing the pinched parts of the nose against the bones of your face. Hold that position for five full minutes, while keeping your head higher than the level of your heart. To do so, sit up straight or lean forward with your head elevated. Apply ice to the nose and cheeks.
If you get a nosebleed that persists despite efforts to stop it, or if you feel you may have a posterior nosebleed, you should see your doctor. An ENT Specialists will use an endoscope to thoroughly check your nose and they may find a problem within the nose that can be fixed. He or she may recommend cauterization (sealing) of the blood vessel that is causing the trouble.