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.
Due to the fact that 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 Happens When a Nose is Bleeding?
The nose is full of tiny blood vessels. When any one of these vessels gets damaged or breaks, a nosebleed starts. This bleeding is also referred to as epistaxis.
There are many potential causes for epistaxis. These include picking your nose, having a cold or sinus infection, allergies, dry air, blowing your nose too hard, and high blood pressure. It can also be caused by certain medications, such as blood thinners and nasal sprays.
There are two types of bleeding from the nose: anterior and posterior.
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.
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 dangerous. However, in some rare cases, they can be a sign of a more serious condition, such as concussions or tumours. If you have a bloody nose that occurs frequently or is very heavy, you should see a doctor rule out any underlying conditions.
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?
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, there are some people who 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, there are some proven 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. If this is done for 10 minutes, it will hopefully stop the bleeding.
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 possibly cause some reactions to one’s stomach.
As we’ve seen, cold has the effect of constricting blood vessels. Thus, a cold compress can be applied to the nose in order 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.
A saline solution can also be used as an effective treatment. This is because it helps to 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.
What Not to Do When Treating a Bleeding Nose?
Just as there are some treatments that can help stop epistaxis, there are also some things that should be avoided in order 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 blowing your nose too hard. 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 small objects up their noses.
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 actually not the case.
Alcohol actually 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 actually 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.
Afterwards, be sure to use a moisturising lotion afterwards 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.
Learn more about first aid with CPR First Aid’s Liverpool course today.