The skin inside your nose is fragile and filled with blood vessels. That's why even a slight injury to your nose sometimes may cause bleeding. Hard nose blowing, dry winter air, colds, and nose picking can also cause nosebleeds. Some medications, such as warfarin (Coumadin), aspirin, and other blood thinners, can predispose you to a nose bleed that is difficult to stop. Normally, nosebleeds are not a cause for concern. But in some cases, they can signal a more serious medical problem. Know when to seek medical care for a nosebleed.

Man tilting head forward and pinching nose.

When to go to the emergency room (ER)

Most nosebleeds aren’t a medical emergency. In fact, you often can treat them yourself. However, see your health care provider if you have frequent nosebleeds. And seek care right away if you:

  • Have a head injury

  • Have bleeding that lasts more than 15 to 30 minutes or is severe

  • Feel weak or faint

  • Have trouble breathing

To help stop a nosebleed:

  • Sit or stand up and lean your head forward (not back)

  • Gently pinch the soft part of your nose for 10 minutes constantly, without rechecking. Constant pressure is helpful. If your nose still bleeds, try pinching for 10 minutes more.

What to expect in the ER

  • You will be examined and may have blood tests.

  • You may be given medicated nose drops to stop the nosebleed.

  • Gauze may be packed into your nose to put pressure on the vessel and help stop bleeding.

  • The bleeding vessel may be cauterized.

  • In rare cases, you may need surgery to control the bleeding.

  • During this procedure, the vessel is burned with an electrical device or chemical. Your nose is first numbed so you won’t feel any pain.