General information

Nosebleeds originate in the blood vessels in the nasal mucous membranes. Usually, the bleeding originates in the front section of the septum, but it can also originate from further back.

Nosebleeds don’t always have any obvious cause, but common causes include trauma, forceful blowing of the nose, nose picking, foreign objects in the nose, dryness inside the nose, respiratory tract infections, sneezing, bathing in a sauna, excess consumption of alcohol, medicines increasing the risk of bleeding (acetylsalicylic acid (ASA), anti-inflammatory medicines, blood thinners), certain illnesses (e.g. high blood atherosclerosis ie calcification of veins and arteries), and age.


The first thing to do is to calm down, even if there appears to be a lot of blood.

Gently blow your nose to remove any clots. After this, firmly pinch the nose against the septum with your thumb and index finger for 15 minutes. Sit leaning forward because this prevents the blood from flowing into your throat.

Swallowing blood can make you sick, so spit out any blood in your mouth and throat. Cold helps to contract the blood vessels, so placing a cold towel on your forehead or neck may be helpful. Letting fresh air into the room also helps you feel better.

After the bleeding has stopped

For a few days following a nosebleed, avoid:

  • hot and spicy drinks and foods
  • saunas and hot baths
  • picking or blowing your nose
  • intense physical activity
  • smoking and drinking alcohol.

You can use Vitamin A drops for dry nasal membranes. If the indoor air is very dry, you may benefit from a humidifier.

When should you seek medical advice?

  • If the bleeding does not stop within 15–20 minutes despite the above measures, it is recommended you seek medical advice.
  • If the bleeding is caused by medication, contact the doctor who prescribed the medicines to discuss an alternative medicine or reducing the dosage.

This Self-care instruction has been produced in collaboration with Duodecim Terveyskirjasto

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Updated  8.6.2020