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BACKGROUND: Recurrent idiopathic epistaxis (nosebleeds) in children is repeated nasal bleeding in patients up to the age of 16 for which no specific cause has been identified. Although nosebleeds are very common in children, and most cases are self-limiting or settle with simple measures (such as pinching the nose), more severe recurrent cases can require treatment from a healthcare professional. However, there is no consensus on the effectiveness of the different clinical interventions currently used in managing this condition. OBJECTIVES: To assess the effects of different interventions for the management of recurrent idiopathic epistaxis in children. SEARCH STRATEGY: We searched the Cochrane ENT Group Specialised Register, the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL, The Cochrane Library Issue 3, 2003), MEDLINE (January 1966 to August 2003), EMBASE (January 1980 to August 2003), CINAHL (January 1982 to August 2003), and reference lists of relevant articles. SELECTION CRITERIA: We identified all randomised controlled trials (with or without blinding) in which any surgical or medical intervention for the treatment of recurrent idiopathic epistaxis in children was evaluated in comparison with either no treatment, a placebo, or another intervention, and in which the frequency and severity of episodes of nasal bleeding following treatment was stated or calculable. The full text articles of all the retrieved trials of possible relevance were reviewed by the two reviewers and the inclusion criteria applied independently. DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS: Trials were graded for methodological quality using the Cochrane approach. Data extraction was performed in a standardised manner by one reviewer and rechecked by the other, and where necessary investigators were contacted to obtain missing information. A meta-analysis was not undertaken because of the heterogeneity of the treatments, procedures and quality of the included trials. A narrative overview of the results is therefore presented. MAIN RESULTS: Three studies - two randomised controlled trials (RCTs) and one controlled clinical trial (CCT) - involving 256 participants satisfied the inclusion criteria. One RCT compared Naseptin antiseptic cream with no treatment, the second RCT compared Vaseline(R) petroleum jelly with no treatment, and the CCT compared Naseptin antiseptic cream with silver nitrate cautery. Overall, results were inconclusive, with no statistically significant difference found between the compared treatments. No serious adverse effects were reported from any of the interventions, although children receiving silver nitrate cautery reported that it was a painful experience (despite the use of local anaesthetic). REVIEWER'S CONCLUSIONS: The optimal management of children with recurrent idiopathic epistaxis is unknown. High quality randomised controlled trials comparing interventions either with placebo or no treatment, and with a follow-up period of at least a year, are needed to assess the relative merits of the various treatments currently in use.

Original publication




Journal article


Cochrane Database Syst Rev

Publication Date



Administration, Intranasal, Adolescent, Child, Child, Preschool, Chlorhexidine, Drug Combinations, Emollients, Epistaxis, Humans, Infant, Neomycin, Petrolatum, Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic, Recurrence