Blood & Bathing
September 21, 2009 1:47 PM   Subscribe

Why are my nose and mouth bleeding (gross!) whenever I take a shower?

Having never really had a trouble with nosebleeds, I now find that nearly every time I take a shower that the red stuff starts flowing. It must be a rupture pretty far up the nose, as it also runs down into my mouth.

I've thought of two factors that might come into play. I've just moved from living in a low (250ft) to a high (5,500ft) elevation town. Also, the bathroom doesn't have a fan, so I open a window high up in the shower stall, causing the humid shower air to collide with the dry outside air at about head level.

So, have any other mefites experienced this issue or have tips for helping me keep my blood on the inside?
posted by boubelium to Health & Fitness (16 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I wonder if you are actually getting nosebleeds at night from the dry air and the humid shower is washing the dried blood out. Try doing a neti pot before your shower to clean your sinuses.
posted by idiotfactory at 1:50 PM on September 21, 2009 [2 favorites]

Your showerhead may deliver more than a refreshing spray of water. New research suggests disease-causing bacteria hide out inside showerheads, hitching a ride to your face and body inside water droplets.

Change your showerhead if you can and turn your face away from the initial spray of water.
posted by Carol Anne at 1:51 PM on September 21, 2009

When I spend more than a day or two at high elevation (5000+) I get more bloody noses but they go away when I come back home (~25ft elevation). I always assumed it was because of the dry air so it seems odd that you're getting them in the shower. Are you washing the inside of your nose with a fork? :-)
posted by foodgeek at 1:52 PM on September 21, 2009

Of course showerheads have bacteria in them. Getting a new one won't get rid of bacteria; in any event what do bacteria have to do with nosebleeds? This is a silly and irrelevant suggestion.

Sounds to me like you should go to a doctor.
posted by dfriedman at 1:59 PM on September 21, 2009 [6 favorites]

See an ENT (doctor of the ear, nose, and throat). They can help diagnose the cause, and they can also treat it. Common treatment for nosebleeds includes cauterizing the affected blood vessel, and can be very effective and painless.
posted by decathecting at 2:04 PM on September 21, 2009

This sounds very similar to what I experience during the summer, and in the winter when the air gets dry. Worse when I go to the mountains. As idiotfactory suggests, this is probably happening during the night, or your nose has just gotten very dry during the night and in the shower you rub your face (and nose) and it breaks it open and starts to bleed.

Having been offered cauterizing by various doctors in the past, I have never gotten the nerve up to actually do it. I do find, using a saline nasal spray once in the morning, and once at night, have pretty much cured this problem for myself. I would suggest you give that a try, as it might be a very simple and effective solution.
posted by chrisroberts at 2:10 PM on September 21, 2009

Moving from Texas to Colorado did a number on my sinuses. No issues in the shower, but I was getting a lot of post-nasal drip sore throats and sinus headaches. Getting a prescription for a nasal spray helped relieve the sinus issues. I also slept with a humidifier.

I would guess any sinus issue is only going to get worse as winter approaches, I'd get to a doctor soon.
posted by LeiaS at 2:10 PM on September 21, 2009

Going into a warm, moist atmosphere will lead to vasodilation, in which all the blood vessels near your outer surfaces widen and allow more blood to flow through them to dump heat, excrete urea through sweat, moisturise your skin, etc. etc. The fragile vessels just underneath the mucous membrane at the top of your nose / sinuses are included in this. This is partly because they have air flowing over them and partly because that's part of the mechanism that regulates mucous production, which is itself regulated by temperature and humidity.

If you're not physiologically adapted to low air pressure, temperature and humidity I could easily believe that some combination of those factors has weakened the already delicate vessels at the top of your nose. Once those are damaged, it makes sense that they'd be prone to bleeding when the shower environment encourages your body to suddenly increse the blood pressure inside them.

My guess would be that you'll just have to wait until your nose adapts to your new environment. You could try taking cooler showers or warming the air up more slowly to reduce the sudden impact of the new bloodflow.

If you have any allergies (my hayfever makes me prone to nosebleeds), the combination of inflammation, excessive mucous production and sneezing can all contribute to the problem. Consider taking some antihistamines if there are any allergy symptoms affecting your nose and throat.

Additional considerations: If the mucous in your nose has an unusual colour or texture (anything that isn't mostly clear or clear + nosebleed) it's usually a sign of an infection and you should probably talk to a doctor. If the bleeding doesn't stop quickly after a shower, or if you're still getting nosebleeds after a week or so, talk to a doctor.

I am just a convincing-sounding stranger on the internet, not a medical doctor. I am especially not your medical doctor. As with all medical AskMes, you should probably talk to someone who is.
posted by metaBugs at 2:16 PM on September 21, 2009 [5 favorites]

I also slept with a humidifier.

If humidifiers are a little expensive, you could also get a vaporizer (those run for only about $15).
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:09 PM on September 21, 2009

Seconding getting a vaporizer. I used to get nosebleeds all the time when I moved from sea level to a high altitude. In my case, sleeping with the vaporizer on helped while my body acclimated to the change.
posted by corey flood at 3:17 PM on September 21, 2009

Thanks all for the excellent and quick replies! I shall buy some nazal spray today and get a humidifier before winter sets in. And if it keeps up, of course, off to the doctor for this exciting and/or terrifying cauterizing.

Oh and foodgeek, I would never clean my nose with a fork. That's what chop sticks are for!
posted by boubelium at 3:36 PM on September 21, 2009

I don't know about anyone else, but I use Oxymetazoline nasal spray. But that comes in two kinds. In one kind, they toss in camphor -- and that kind give me nose bleeds. The other kind doesn't have that, and it doesn't give me nose bleeds.

So be wary of that. Neo-Synephrine Night Time 12 Hour doesn't have the camphor.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 4:34 PM on September 21, 2009

seconding neti pot, it is a great way to moisturize in there, also flush out the gunk..
posted by jockc at 4:53 PM on September 21, 2009

chrisroberts: "Having been offered cauterizing by various doctors in the past, I have never gotten the nerve up to actually do it."

Had it twice for nosebleeds. It only stung for a minute. It was more annoying than painful, in that I wasn't allowed to blow my nose for 2 weeks afterwards.
posted by IndigoRain at 10:07 PM on September 21, 2009

Just because we recently bought one and can naybe save you some money.... get a warm steam sort of humidifier. The cool mist ones don't budge the humidity level at all, even in a closed bedroom. The warm mist ones work very well though.
posted by Lou Stuells at 3:25 AM on September 22, 2009

I had the same thing happen to me when I moved from 300ft to 5000ft. I'm pretty sure my boss thought I was some sort of druggie because I would spring random nosebleeds at work. It did stop happening, eventually, but I think it took a year or two (I'm slow).
posted by hfbellefille at 5:58 PM on September 22, 2009

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