Why Do I See Blood When I Blow My Nose?

Medically reviewed by Elaine K. Luo, MD on November 3, 2017Written by Natalie Silver on November 3, 2017

The sight of blood after blowing your nose may concern you, but it’s often not serious. In fact, almost 60 million Americans experience a bloody nose annually. Your nose has a significant supply of blood in it, which can lead to bleeding when you blow your nose frequently.

Home-based and over-the-counter treatments may alleviate this condition if you experience it only occasionally or for a short stretch of time.

What causes blood when you blow your nose?

You may experience slight or heavy bleeding from your nose because of damage to the interior of your nasal passages. The majority of nosebleeds occur in the septum of the nose, particularly the front bottom section of this area. The septum is where your nose separates into two different sides.

Your nose has many blood vessels that can become damaged for a variety of reasons. Once the blood vessel is damaged, you may experience bleeding more frequently when blowing your nose. This is because the scab covering the broken blood vessel during the healing process may break off.

Here are some reasons you may experience bleeding when blowing your nose:

Cold, dry weather

You may find that you experience bleeding when blowing your nose more commonly in the winter months. This is when cold and dry air can damage your nose’s blood vessels because there isn’t enough moisture in your nose. It may become even more dry and irritated in the winter because you spend time in heated indoor environments that lack humidity.

Dryness in your nose can also cause a delay in the healing of broken blood vessels and result in infections in this organ. This in turn can lead to more frequent experiences of bleeding when blowing your nose.

Nose picking

Picking your nose can damage blood vessels. Nose picking in children is a frequent cause of bloody noses.

Foreign objects in the nose

You may also experience trauma to your nose’s blood vessels if a foreign object enters your nose. With young children, this could be something that they put in their nose. Even the tip of a nasal spray applicator might get stuck in a person’s nose.

One study found that 5 percent of participants using steroid spray for allergic and nonallergic rhinitis had a bloody nose within a two-month period.

Nasal congestion or respiratory infections

You may experience bleeding when blowing your nose because of nasal congestion or a respiratory infection. Frequent blowing of the nose may create broken blood vessels. This can also occur if you sneeze or cough frequently, such as when you have a respiratory condition. You may experience nasal congestion or respiratory infections from a common cold, allergies, sinusitis, or another health condition.

Anatomical abnormality

The anatomical structure of your nose may lead to bleeding when you blow your nose. A deviated septum, holes in the septum, bony spurs, or fractures to your nose could be the cause. Your nose may not be getting enough moisture if you have one of these conditions, and this can result in your nose bleeding when you blow it.

Injury or surgery

Any injury or surgical intervention to your nose or face may cause blood when blowing your nose.

Exposure to chemical substances

The blood vessels in your nose may become damaged by the use of drugs like cocaine or exposure to harsh chemicals like ammonia.

Medications

You may experience bleeding when blowing your nose because you take certain medications. Blood-thinning medications like aspirin, warfarin, and others affect the ability of your blood to clot and could lead to bleeding when blowing your nose.

Tumor in the nose

Very rarely, blood when blowing your nose can be caused by a tumor in the nose. Other symptoms of such a tumor include:

  • pain around your eyes
  • nasal congestion that progressively gets worse
  • decreased sense of smell

How are nose bleeds treated?

You can treat this condition at home if you suspect the cause isn’t serious.

Blood that is gushing or running from your nose after blowing should be treated by doing the following until your nose stops bleeding:

  • sitting down
  • relaxing
  • tilting your head forward
  • pinching your nose shut
  • breathing through your mouth

Once the bleeding is under control, keep your head above your heart for several hours and avoid contact with your nose.

After you’ve gotten a heavy nose bleed under control or if you’re trying to treat a minor nose bleed, you should consider:

  • using a saline spray to add moisture to your nose
  • avoiding nose picking, nose blowing, or inserting any foreign objects in your nose while it heals
  • applying petroleum jelly to the inside of your nose with a cotton swab every day to keep it moisturized
  • adding moisture to the air with a humidifier during cold and dry months

When to see a doctor

Serious nosebleeds that last longer than 15 or 20 minutes at a time or frequent bleeding when blowing the nose requires medical attention from your doctor. Your doctor can diagnose the cause of the condition and recommend a course of treatment to prevent it from reoccurring. This may include basic treatments at home, cautery, nasal packing, or surgical intervention.

The bottom line

Nosebleeds are a common condition experienced by millions of Americans each year. The condition may be harmless in nature and clear up with proper treatment at home.

You should see your doctor if you suspect the bleeding when blowing your nose is caused by a more serious condition or if you experience frequent or severe nosebleeds.

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