CPR First Aid

Can Cold Showers Help Nosebleeds?

Can Cold Showers Help Nosebleeds?

We’ve all experienced a nosebleed at one point in our life. It may have happened after getting hit on the nose. Other times, it manifests as a random occurrence. 

Because these types of bleeds are common, there have been many potential treatments presented. Which of these are myths and which are true? 

In most cases, these types of bleeding are not life-threatening. Only rarely does a nosebleed lead to a fatal outcome for the person. 

Despite that, it is still important to find out which solutions should be followed, and which bear no weight at all. 

In this article, we’ll look at the varying facts and opinions weighing on whether cold showers can help nosebleeds.

What are the Causes of Nosebleeds?

The nose is full of tiny blood vessels. When any one of these small blood vessels gets damaged or breaks, a nosebleed starts. Medical professionals also call this epistaxis.

There are many potential causes for epistaxis. The most common causes include picking the inside of your nose, common colds, sinus infections, sneezing, allergies, dry air, blowing your nose too hard, and high blood pressure. It can also be caused by blood thinners and blood-thinning medications (which prevent blood clots/clotting such as warfarin).

The nose is full of tiny blood vessels. When any one of these small blood vessels gets damaged or breaks, a nosebleed starts. Medical professionals also call this epistaxis.

Different Types

There are two types: posterior nosebleeds and anterior nosebleeds.

The anterior type happens when the bleeding comes from the front part of the nose. This is the most common type and can often be treated at home. They usually start with a trickle before turning into a steady flow. The common cause of this is a dry climate or heated indoor air as there is irritation in the inside of the nose and nasal membranes. These dry out and cause crusts that itch and bleed.

On the other hand, a posterior bleed originates from deep within the nose. It happens when branches that supply blood to the nose become damaged. These types of bloody noses are less common, but they tend to be more serious since the bleeding is heavier.

Is It Serious?

Epistaxis is not usually a dangerous health condition. However, frequent nosebleeds can be a sign of a more serious medical condition, such as concussions, tumours, or bleeding disorders. Seek medical attention for proper diagnosis and health information.

How Does Cold Affect Blood Vessels?

Another factor that must be taken into consideration in figuring out whether these showers help bloody noses is the effect the cold has on blood vessels.

Cold has the effect of constricting blood vessels. This is called vasoconstriction. When blood vessels constrict, it reduces the flow of blood. This is why people often use ice packs to reduce swelling after an injury.

Can this same logic be applied to colder showers and their effect on a bloody nose?

Another factor that must be taken into consideration in figuring out whether these showers help bloody noses is the effect the cold has on blood vessels.

Do Cold Showers Help?

Now that we’ve looked at epistaxis and how cold affects blood vessels, let’s see what the science has to say about using cool showers to help nosebleeds.

In truth, there is currently no definitive answer as to whether cool showers are effective in treating bloody noses. Opinions are widely varied on this matter.

Cold and Hot On the Matter

Some anecdotes have hinted that these showers help people who experience frequent bleeding in the nasal area. The theory is that cold water helps to constrict the blood vessels in the nose, which reduces the risk of bleeding.

At the same time though, some people have experienced an increased frequency of bleeds.

Thus, we have a mixed bag of claims. For some, it is helpful, for others relatively harmless, and in a few, it even triggers the bleeds.

Until more evidence is found, people can opt to try this out but do so with the utmost caution.

What to Do When Treating a Bleeding Nose?

While there is no surefire way to prevent a nosebleed, healthcare providers recommend treatments that can be administered to help stop the bleeding.

Pinch Nostrils Closed and Lean

The first proven treatment is to pinch both nostrils closed with one’s thumb and forefinger. Throughout the pinching, breathing should be done through the mouth.

This pinch puts some much-needed pressure on the area bleeding inside the nose and stops the blood flow. If this is done for 10 minutes, it will hopefully stop the bleeding.

Lean Forward

Next up, we have the very simple tip of leaning forward. This can be used in conjunction with the previous treatment of pinching one’s nose.

This one is particularly important since leaning forward will stop any blood from flowing to the back of the throat. If any blood is swallowed, it may cause some reactions to one’s stomach.

Cold Compress

As we’ve seen, cold has the effect of constricting blood vessels. Thus, a cold compress can be applied to the nose to help stop the bleeding.

This compress can be in the form of an ice pack or a bag of frozen vegetables wrapped in a towel. The compress should be applied for about 10 minutes at a time, with a break in between to prevent any tissue damage.

Saline Spray

An over-the-counter saline spray or nasal spray to keep the nose moist and moisturise the nasal passages.

Dryness is often a trigger for epistaxis, so by keeping the area hydrated, it may be possible to prevent these bleeds from happening in the first place.

Nasal Packing

It involves packing the nose with gauze and soaking it in petroleum jelly to stop bleeding that may be coming from a source located in the nasal cavity.

Using a Humidifier

Doing this keeps the indoor air and the lining of the nose moist which is helpful at high altitudes or in dry climates.

Seek Medical Advice about Medicines for Allergies

If you have allergies, ask a doctor if it is best to take decongestants or antihistamines to manage itchy or runny nose.

What Not to Do When Treating a Bleeding Nose?

Just as some treatments can help stop epistaxis, some things should be avoided to prevent making the situation worse.

Blow Your Nose Too Hard

One of the main triggers for these bleeds is nose-picking. However, another trigger is too hard nose blowing. This can cause the delicate blood vessels in the nose to rupture and bleed.

If you must blow your nose, do so gently. And if you have a cold or allergies, use a saline solution to help clear your nasal passages before blowing your nose.

Do Not Put Anything Small Up Your Nose

This might seem like common sense, but it is surprising how many people try to stop these bleeds by putting foreign objects on the front of the nose.

This can include everything from cotton balls to pieces of tissue. Not only is this ineffective, but it also increases the risk of infection.

Do Not Drink Alcohol

While it might seem like alcohol would help to thin the blood and therefore stop epistaxis, this is not the case.

Alcohol has the opposite effect and can cause the blood vessels in the nose to dilate and bleed.

Do Not Take Aspirin

Like alcohol, aspirin also thins the blood and can cause this type of bleeding. If you are already taking aspirin for another condition, do not stop taking it.

However, if you are not taking aspirin and bloody noses are a concern, it is best to avoid it.

Do Not Take Hot Showers

Hot showers can dry out the nose and make epistaxis more likely.

Instead, opt for a lukewarm shower (or a cold one if you are so inclined to try) and simply wash your face with a washcloth.

Afterward, be sure to use a moisturising lotion to help keep your nose hydrated.

Time Will Tell

Nosebleeds are a common occurrence that can be caused by a variety of factors. While they are usually not serious, they can be quite inconvenient and messy.

Unfortunately, we were unable to come to a conclusive decision on whether cold showers can help a nosebleed. Time will eventually tell whether these showers offer any benefit to a bloody nose.

Until that time comes, follow the treatment do’s and don’ts we outlined above. At the same time, you can broaden your bleeding nose treatments by learning relevant first aid skills.

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