Nasal Cauterization

Cauterization is a medical term that basically means to burn or destroy tissue. In first aid treatments, cauterization may be used to stop a wound from bleeding profusely. Often, cauterization is used to close up amputated wounds, stop bleeding from occurring and to fight infections. If you have frequent nosebleeds, your doctor may recommend that an artery or vein in your nose be cauterized. When this happens, heat is applied to the location of the bleeding. The sudden heat seals off the blood vessels so that the flow of blood is stopped. Since nasal cauterization takes only a few minutes to perform, this procedure is often done at the doctor’s office or in an outpatient setting.


Why Is Nasal Cauterization Carried Out?

Your nose is designed to have a continuous supply of blood so that you can warm up any air that you inhale and keep it humid as it travels to your lungs. Due to this supply of rich blood, the nose is a common site of bleeding. Nosebleeds, or epistaxis, is common among children and adolescents. In addition to age and genetics, a nosebleed may be caused by having exceptionally dry membranes within the nose, trauma or an infection. If the nose is picked or blown excessively, a nosebleed may occur. Likewise, vigorous exercise, sneezing and coughing can cause a nosebleed. Normally, this type of bleeding occurs from just one vein that has become engorged within the wall of the septum. If the nosebleed is just a one time occurrence, the individual will generally be left to heal on their own. If someone has frequent nosebleeds, their doctor may recommend a nasal cauterization.

How Is a Nasal Cauterization Done?

In general, the doctor will heat up a platinum needle using electricity. Once the needle is thoroughly heated, it is placed in the nostril to seal the tissue. Sometimes, doctors will use silver nitrate or other caustic agents to seal off the bleeding tissue. In general, this procedure is extremely easy and quick to perform.

Nasal cauterization starts with an inspection of the nostril. The doctor must first figure out where the bleeding is coming from to determine where they will cauterize. Afterward, the doctor may take a blood test to figure out if the patient has anemia and if any anti-clotting agents are present. Once this is done, the doctor will use a local anesthetic to number your nose. They will then use the heated needle to cauterize the blood vessels and force them to fuse together. When this is done properly, the rupture will heal and the bleeding will be stopped.

Caring for Yourself After a Nasal Cauterization Is Performed

Following your nasal cauterization, you should not need any more treatment or medical care. You should be extremely careful for the next seven to ten days to make sure that you do not do anything that could cause the bleeding to start again. Your nostril will take about a week to heal, so you need to make sure that you do not cause any trauma to your nose through coughing, exercise or other activities. If your nostril begins to bleed again, you should go back to your doctor to get additional help.

Following this procedure, you should do the following things to make sure that the nasal cauterization has time to heal:

  • Avoid blowing your nose whenever possible and keep your mouth open if you do have to sneeze.
  • Do not use any alcohol or tobacco product for at least a week after a nasal cauterization.
  • Do not perform any heavy lifting or heavy exercise for at least a week.
  • Use nose drops to ensure that your nose is lubricated and does not dry out.

Following a nasal cauterization, you may feel burning or slight pain for a few days. You can handle the pain through taking Tylenol or by spraying the inside of your nose with a saline solution.

Once you have had a nasal cauterization, you need to make sure that you allow your nose time to heal. You do not want to have several nasal cauterization procedures because they can become less effective over time. When you do have a basic nosebleed, you can use a cold compress on the bridge of your nose as you squeeze the ridge to get the bleeding to stop. Ideally, your doctor will only want to perform a cauterization on one nostril at a time, and they will not want to perform the procedure too frequently. Due to this, you need to make sure to take care of your nose so that future nasal cauterization procedures are not necessary.


  1. I got my left nostril cauterized with silver nitrate 3 days ago. I blew my nose this morning. Everything was fun, but then later on in the morning, the cauterized scab fell off. Does this mean it healed or should I call my doctor? I’ve gotten this nostril cauterized twice in the past already.

    • Scabs, by their very nature, fall off when they are no longer needed. If bleeding had resumed, then it likely has already scabbed over. Continue to monitor your nose at this time. Have a great day, Michelle!

  2. I just had mine done & it is running & dripping with some blood tinged in. Not dark red blood as it did when I had the bleeds beforehand. Should I be concerned?

    • Continue to monitor it. It should heal over time. If it continues to bleed for another day, then you may want to take action. Best of luck, Tamz!

  3. My daughter has to have one done and is very young… will it be more painful and will there be a longer recover time?

    • Age does not always matter when it comes to pain. Some people seem to experience pain more than others. Recovery time is generally faster for younger people. Have a great day, Phyllis!

    • Everyone’s body works at different speeds. Continue to be patient as you move forward. It will work itself out in time. Best of luck, Robert!


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