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What Causes Bloody Noses?

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Everything about getting a bloody nose is the worst. The first moment when you realize that no, that's not snot—that's blood. The looks of sympathy or confusion you get as you rush off to find a bathroom. The confusing advice from well-meaning bystanders. ("Tip your head back!" "Tilt your head forward!" "Pinch your nose!") Nosebleeds are even more irritating because, with the exception of the ones triggered by some sort of impact, they seem to occur in clusters. When you get one, you know there's a good chance you'll be getting another one soon. But what causes bloody noses?

"The most common cause of nosebleeds is local trauma or irritation in the nose, oftentimes worsened by dryness," says Roheen Raithatha, M.D. That helps explain why one might seem to trigger another—if you don't treat the dryness after one bloody nose, there's a good chance another will follow.

What's more, some people are simply built to have more nosebleeds than others. For example, someone with a deviated or perforated septum might get them more often. "Some people have larger blood vessels in the front portion of their nasal septum, and these can rupture more easily," adds Raithatha. That's especially true in the winter, when the air tends to be drier indoors and outside, which makes the blood vessels even more fragile. (Related: 4 Tips to Dodge Dehydration This Winter)

So what's a girl with huge, fragile blood vessels in her nose to do? Moisturize those gigantic, desiccated veins! Raithatha recommends using nasal saline (like the classic Arm and Hammer Simply Saline Nasal Mist, $9, walmart.com), applying ointments like Aquafor or Vaseline to the front of your nasal passages, and running a humidifier, which has the added perk of helping reduce congestion.

If you do get a bleed, pinch your nostrils shut (skip pinching the hard bridge of your nose, between your eyes; it does nothing) and if you have it on hand, use a nasal decongestant spray to close up the veins and stop the bleeding.

But if you do all this and your nose keeps bleeding on the reg, you may want to see an ENT who'll be able to scope the inside of your nose and give you more targeted treatment.

 

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