Earth-friendly Nosebleed Care

My six-year-old son, who is slowly learning to be more independent during the night, recently told me in the morning that he had had a nosebleed in the middle of the night.  I changed his pillowcase–our linen closet is in the master bedroom, so he couldn’t have done that without waking us–but he had taken care of the blood from the part of the nosebleed after it woke him.

Nicholas established years ago that when he has a nosebleed (he’s prone to minor ones), he covers his nose with one of the cloth wipes we used with his cloth diapers when he was a baby.  They still are stashed in a cupboard next to his bed.  The flannel side is soft and smooth against his nose, while the terry layer is very absorbent.  He doesn’t mind that they have had poop on them–they’ve been washed thoroughly many times; they are clean now!

We all use handkerchiefs for runny noses, so it made perfect sense for Nicholas to grab for a cloth when his nose started bleeding, and it was very smart to choose the more absorbent wipe over a thinner hanky–but the first time I saw him do this, I was worried that the cute flannel print would get permanently stained.

Blood stains come out completely if you soak them right away in cold water.  So I taught Nicholas, during that first nosebleed, that when your nosebleed stops or you’re ready to switch to a fresh wipe, you go into the bathroom and put the bloody wipe into one of the empty quart-size yogurt buckets among your bath toys, run cold water into it until the wipe is covered, and set the bucket where nobody will knock it over (between the sink and the wall).  After letting it soak a few hours, you wring it out and hang it on the edge of the laundry basket so it can dry.

Nicholas often forgets to do that last step; he just leaves the wipes soaking, and I take them out later.  That’s okay with me.  He is still quite young and doesn’t have to be responsible for everything!  I’m pretty impressed that he takes care of the first step himself, even when his nosebleed lasts so long that he’s holding another wipe against his face as he patiently sets up the bucket with his free hand.

One day when he was in preschool, he told me at the end of the day, “I had a nosebleed, and it was so gross!  I had to use tissues!  They stuck fuzzes on my nose!  And the blood kept soaking through to my hand!”  Yeah, I know how that is, with those inferior fake hankies!  In fact, when I was in college and had a season of really extreme nosebleeds, and using cloth hadn’t occurred to me yet but tissues were infuriating, I got into the habit of just grabbing something to read and kneeling in front of a bathroom sink to let it all go down the drain.  Using and soaking cloth wipes is much more pleasant than that.

And then you don’t have a wastebasket full of bloody tissues sitting around waiting to go to the landfill.


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9 thoughts on “Earth-friendly Nosebleed Care

  1. We always used washcloths when I was growing up–we had a stash that were pretty much just used for nosebleeds, which was good because I had a lot of nosebleeds growing up. Usually my mom would run them under water first, so they weren’t dry and hard against my nose, and I learned to wash them in cold water as soon as I was done with them. I hated when I was at school or somewhere else where the only thing offered me was tissues! They seemed so inefficient compared to the washcloths.

  2. I had terrible nosebleeds as a kid… I got one the first day of kindergarten and thus began my long friendship with the school nurse (I fear I was a regular.) She always gave me cold damp washcloths, which worked SOOOO much better than the tissues I had to use at home. It also freaked me out less because the blood wouldn’t seep through like it did with the tissues.

    Funny thing… I suffered with the nosebleeds all through my twenties, and finally made the connection that they happened when I was under stress. I never realized it until I got a bad one at work right after a confrontation with an idiot co-worker. Apparently in all of my striving to “be nice” I would turn all of my anger and frustration inwards which would totally make my blood pressure shoot sky high and then the blood would just start pouring out of my nose. Once I figured that out, I started finding better ways to deal with my feelings and the nosebleeds completely stopped. It probably had some fringe benefits for my health in general because spiking blood pressure like that can’t be good.

    Don’t know if that’s your son’s issue or not… and I’m sure other things also contributed to my childhood nosebleeds, but it you might want to keep an eye on him to see if there’s a pattern there. I often wish that someone had helped me address that sort of stuff much earlier in my life.

    • I think that Nicholas has nosebleeds when the air gets more dry after a humid phase, but I have wondered about stress, too. It doesn’t seem that he is suppressing anger (given that he hollers at his parents quite often!) but at least half his nosebleeds start while he’s sleeping, so maybe he is dealing with some stressful feelings in dreams.

      That bout of nosebleeds I had in college definitely was triggered by stress. I liked a guy who was dating someone else, and she saw me as a serious threat and looked daggers at me whenever we met, and those daggers seemed to stab my nose! And that was on top of the stress of incredibly high academic expectations, which I was just encountering–that was my first semester.

      I also had a series of dramatic nosebleeds when I was 24 and my job required me to help set up a trade show; one day, we worked with spray adhesive in an unventilated room, so I got a bunch of it stuck in my nose! In addition to the injuries I gave myself getting it out, I think the chemicals in it irritated my capillaries or impeded clotting or something. Yikes.

    • We have tried some different strategies, and that does seem to be one of the better ones. But most of his nosebleeds have stopped after just a few minutes anyway.

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