Health A-Z

Medical Content Created by the Faculty of the Harvard Medical School



If you are bleeding from the front of your nose, begin by trying the following first-aid measures:

  • Sit up (so your head is above the level of your heart), lean forward slightly and breathe through your mouth.

  • With your thumb and index finger, pinch the entire front of your nose (just above your nostrils and below the hard, bony base) and hold for five minutes.

  • At the same time, use your other hand to apply an ice pack or a plastic bag of crushed ice to the bridge of your nose to slow blood flow.

  • After you have pinched your nose for five minutes, release it to see if your nose is still bleeding. Keep the ice pack on for another 10 to 15 minutes.

  • If your nose is still bleeding, pinch it for an additional 10 minutes.

  • Release your nose again. If you are still bleeding, seek emergency medical help.

When simple first aid does not stop a nosebleed, your doctor may treat the problem by:

  • Applying medication directly to the inside of your nose to stop the bleeding

  • Sealing off (cauterizing) the injured blood vessel with a chemical, such as silver nitrate, or with an electric probe

  • Packing your nose with gauze or a sponge

  • Using other methods, such as:

    • Laser therapy - A laser beam seals the bleeding blood vessel

    • Embolization - A special plug inserted into the bleeding vessel blocks blood flow

    • Surgery - Ties off a selection of blood vessels

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From Health A-Z, Harvard Health Publications. Copyright 2007 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved. Written permission is required to reproduce, in any manner, in whole or in part, the material contained herein. To make a reprint request, contact Harvard Health Publications. Used with permission of StayWell.

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