Dealing with a Nosebleed

This leaflet is created from first aid advice provided by St John Ambulance, the nation's leading first aid charity. This advice is no substitute for first aid training - find a training course near you.


Bleeding from the nose most commonly occurs when tiny blood vessels inside the nostrils are ruptured, either by a blow to the nose, or as a result of sneezing, picking or blowing the nose. A nosebleed may also occur as a result of high blood pressure.

A nosebleed can be dangerous if the person loses a lot of blood. In addition, if bleeding follows a head injury, the blood may appear thin and watery. The latter is a very serious sign because it indicates that the skull is fractured and fluid is leaking from around the brain.


The aim is to control blood loss and to maintain an open airway:

  • Ask the person to sit down.
  • Advise them to tilt their head forwards to allow the blood to drain from the nostrils.
  • Ask the person to breathe through their mouth (this will also have a calming effect) and to pinch the soft part of the nose.
  • Reassure and help if necessary.
  • Tell the person to keep pinching their nose.
  • Advise them not to speak, swallow, cough, spit or sniff because this may disturb blood clots that may have formed in the nose.
  • After 10 minutes, tell the person to release the pressure. If the bleeding has not stopped, tell them to reapply the pressure for two further periods of 10 minutes.
  • Once the bleeding has stopped and with the person still leaning forwards, clean around their nose with lukewarm water.
  • Advise the person to rest quietly for a few hours. Tell them to avoid exertion and, in particular, not to blow their nose, because these actions will disturb any clots.


  • Do not let the head tip back; blood may run down the throat, inducing vomiting.
  • If bleeding stops and then restarts, tell the person to reapply pressure.
  • If the nosebleed is severe, or if it lasts longer than 30 minutes in total, take or send the person to hospital in the treatment position.

Note: these hints are no substitute for thorough knowledge of first aid. St John Ambulance holds first aid courses throughout the country.

This leaflet was taken from the St John Ambulance website: nosebleeds . Copyright for this leaflet is with St John Ambulance.