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Should You Use Saline Gel to Prevent Nosebleeds?

Keeping the nostrils moist is a good way to prevent nosebleeds. One reader recommends saline gel and humidifying the air you are breathing.

A bloody nose can be merely a nuisance or it can be a medical emergency. In most cases, people with nosebleeds find them uncomfortable, if not alarming, and would be pleased to find a way to prevent nosebleeds. Here, one reader reports on a successful strategy. 

Saline Gel to Prevent Nosebleeds:

Q. I had a couple of scary nosebleeds a few years ago, and my ear-nose-and-throat clinician advised me to use Ayr Saline Nasal Gel two or three times a day. He also suggested that I get a humidifier installed on my furnace. When I did this, it helped with my nose and my skin as well.

I’ve had great success with this method and haven’t had any nosebleeds, not even a hint of blood. I’m very grateful to my ENT PA for the recommendations on how to prevent nosebleeds.

This nasal gel is affordable. It’s definitely worth looking into if you have problems with dry nose.

Why Saline Is Better Than Petroleum Jelly:

A. Saline sprays or gels are a safe way to moisturize a dry nose. Although people sometimes tell us they like to use petroleum jelly products such as Vaseline or Vicks VapoRub, these are not appropriate nasal moisturizers. To prevent nosebleeds, you should avoid oil-based products, as they might end up in the lungs and cause inflammation.

Here is another take on this common problem:

Q. I was a victim of frequent nosebleeds. My doctor suggested I soak a small wad of cotton with a few drops of Afrin and put that in my nostril. It worked right away to stop them.

How to Prevent Nosebleeds:

I was more interested in eliminating the nosebleeds than dealing with a bloody mess, so I began rubbing a little Vaseline in each nostril. I’ve done that for two years and have only had two slight nosebleeds during that time. Apparently, keeping the membranes moist does the trick.

A. Regular use of petroleum jelly in the nose could lead to inflammation of the lungs (lipoid pneumonia). Instead, moisturize dry nasal passages with a saline solution.

Afrin Nasal Spray contains oxymetazoline, a compound that constricts blood vessels. This would be helpful in stopping a nosebleed (American Family Physician, Aug. 15, 2018). Used too often, however, Afrin can lead to rebound congestion that can make your nose feel stuffy.

Many readers report that a home remedy can be helpful against nosebleeds. Doctors recommend pinching the nose to put pressure on the bleed. Although some people laugh at the idea of putting a ring of keys down the back of the neck, others insist it works.

One reader offered this:

“As a youngster in England 50 years ago, I got a bad nosebleed while walking home. As I passed a baker’s shop, the owner noticed my problem, took me inside, put me on the shop floor and slipped a huge cold door key down my back. My nose stopped bleeding immediately.”

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies..
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