Q & A Library

Print this page | Sign up for free e-bulletins
 | Bookmark This Page

No More Nosebleeds?

What's the best way to prevent bloody noses in the winter from forced heat and dry air? Are there home remedies you recommend?

Answer (Published 2/2/2012)

Bloody noses are very common in winter due in large part, as you suggest, to seasonal dry air that irritates and dries nasal membranes. Colds, which are also more frequent in winter, irritate these membranes as well. Other common causes of nosebleeds are repeated nose blowing, allergies, and some common drugs that dry the nasal membranes, including antihistamines and decongestants used to control a runny or stuffy nose. Smoking also contributes to nasal dryness and irritation, so if you smoke, quit.

Related Weil Products
Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging - Your Online Guide to the Anti-Inflammatory Diet! - Everything you need to get started eating a healthful, satisfying diet is here - including eating and shopping guides, over 300 recipes, and an exclusive version of Dr. Weil's Anti-Inflammatory Food Pyramid! Start your 14-day free trial now - and start eating anti-inflammatory today!

Most nosebleeds (more than 90 percent) come from small blood vessels (capillaries) located in the front of the nose, usually in the septum, the divider between your nostrils. Some people are more at risk of nosebleeds because their capillaries are closer to the surface. Occasionally, nosebleeds can be a symptom of a more serious systemic problem, such as high blood pressure or a clotting disorder.

One way to deal with the dry air that contributes to your nosebleeds is to buy a humidifier for your home. You also could try a product called Ayr, a saline nasal gel sold in drug stores; just squirt a little in your nose. Other options are to rub some Vaseline, liquid vitamin E, or aloe gel in your nose. You can also take vitamin C, which decreases the fragility of small blood vessels. The dose is 200 milligrams twice a day. Yet another possibility is grape seed extract or a proprietary pine-bark extract called Pycnogenol; these are sources of anthocyanin pigments that have the same effect. All are worth a try.

To deal with active nosebleeds, sit upright or lean your head slightly forward and pinch both nostrils (do not lean back). Hold your nostrils shut for five to 10 minutes without letting go and breathe through your mouth. By plugging your nose, you stop the blood flow and allow a clot to form. If the bleeding hasn't stopped after 10 minutes, spray some decongestant into your nose. This shrinks the blood vessels. Then hold your nose again for 10 minutes. You could also try sniffing a little bit of powdered yarrow (Achillea millefolium), a safe herbal remedy that stops surface bleeding.

If after 20 minutes you're still bleeding, see a doctor. You may need to have the blood vessels cauterized with silver nitrate solution. You'll also likely need professional help if you're taking blood thinners or large amounts of aspirin. Note that high doses of vitamin E and fish oil have blood-thinning effects that can contribute to the problem.

Andrew Weil, M.D.

Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved Creative Commons Copyright Notice
A portion of the original material created by Weil Lifestyle on (specifically, all question and answer-type articles in the Dr. Weil Q&A Library) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

The Weil Vitamin Advisor
Get your FREE personalized vitamin recommendation & supplement plan today!

Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging
Your Online Guide to the Anti-Inflammatory Diet. Start eating for your health - begin your free trial now.

Dr. Weil's Spontaneous Happiness
Achieve emotional well-being in just eight weeks! Start your 10-day free trial now!

Vitamin Library
Supplement your knowledge with Dr. Weil's essential vitamin facts. Learn why they are necessary and more.

Dr. Weil's Optimum Health Plan
Your 8-week plan to wellness.
Begin your journey today!

Dr. Weil's Head-to-Toe Wellness Guide
Your guide to natural health.
Use the Wellness Guide today!

Dr. Weil's Anti-Inflammatory Diet
Food Pyramid

Our interactive tool can help improve overall health through diet.

Condition Care Guide
Learn about health conditions from acne to vertigo, and Dr. Weil's view of the best treatment options for each.

Healthy Recipes
Discover a treasure trove of healthy, healing foods and creative, delicious ways to prepare them.

Q&A Library
Over 2,000 questions from you and their corresponding answers from Dr. Weil.

Copyright © 2015 Weil Lifestyle
Information on this web site is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information on this web site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment.

Ad Choice
Advertising Notice

This Site and third parties who place advertisements on this Site may collect and use information about your visits to this Site and other websites in order to provide advertisements about goods and services of interest to you. If you would like to obtain more information about these advertising practices and to make choices about online behavioral advertising, please click here