Dry Winter Air and the Nosebleed

Clearing out a snow-filled driveway is a joy only hardy winter folks know.
Clearing out a snow-filled driveway is a joy only hardy winter folks know.

Winter and Dry Air

All of us who live through an annual winter season would consider ourselves divinely blessed if it weren't for one drawback: dry air. But for that one irritant, winter would be an experience of total wonder and bliss.

Waking up at 5:30 a.m., for instance, to see three feet of snow in the driveway is a moment of sheer ecstasy. It's everyone's delight to jump out of bed and enthusiastically plunge into two hours of joyful shoveling before heading off to work. That is, until the evidence of dry air emerges and steals the joy away.

The evidence does not have to catch us by surprise. There are a number of ways to tell if the air is becoming seriously moisture-deficient. Some of the signs in our bodies are itchy skin, dry throat, and chapped lips; in our possessions, we might find cracked wood in expensive furniture or fine musical instruments. For the mechanical minded, there's a device called a hygrometer that tells us in plain numbers if our inside air has been robbed of its moisture.

But, standing out from all these indicators is the one guaranteed telltale sign that the air has become too dry: the nosebleed.

Yeah, that's right, folks, the nosebleed. It's as predictable as the quaffing of rye whiskey resulting in a fistfight. Here comes winter, here comes the nosebleed. All people who live in a winter-prone climate keep a red-stained hanky stowed on their person in some discreet location.

The nose is in a vulnerable position on the face.
The nose is in a vulnerable position on the face.

The Cause of Nosebleeds

The cause of the symbiotic relationship between winter and nosebleeds is still under debate as far as I can tell. While doing the obligatory research for this Hub, I ran across a number of articles that suggested a rather odd postulation. (A Google search for "nosebleed" will return enough of them to illustrate the point.) The gist of the postulation is this: people get nosebleeds because the nose is situated in a vulnerable position on the face.

Well! I was overcome by the simplicity of the revelation! I was in awe of the daredevil gumshoes who had exposed the naked truth! So many people so desperate for so long for answers! And all the while it was right there, plain as the... you know.

It so happens that I personally suffer from nosebleeds. Until now, I had blamed women. The sequence usually goes something like this: I see an attractive woman and I am immediately stirred by romantic inclinations; my inclinations prompt me to make romantic advances; just as my romantic advance is on the verge of acceptance a big surly guy appears from a distant corner; the big surly guy announces that he is a husband or boyfriend; I get a nosebleed.

Like I said, I used to blame the women. I felt they could at least have warned me about the big surly guy. Now I see that women have nothing to do with it. The simple truth is, I get nosebleeds because my nose is "situated in a vulnerable position on the face". I have recently made an appointment with a plastic surgeon to discuss alternate possibilities.

Anyway, more serious minded folks seem to think there is a perfectly logical reason why we get nosebleeds in winter. The nose, stuck out there all by itself like a lonely sentinel, gets no reprieve or shelter from the dry air all around. This particular body member is also full of little blood vessels, many of them close to the skin surface. The air dries the surrounding skin, then dries the blood vessels themselves, and eventually the vessels crack and bleed. Which results in a lot of sturdy winter-loving folks keeping a red-stained hanky stowed discreetly on their persons.

I own a hygrometer like this one. It makes knowing humidity levels a simple task.
I own a hygrometer like this one. It makes knowing humidity levels a simple task.

How to Prevent the Winter Nosebleed

As we positive thinkers know, for every problem there is a solution. The more enthusiastic among us believe that any problem, big or small, is just a solution begging to be found. And I'm happy to report that a solution to the winter nosebleed problem has indeed been found.

The solution is found in a concept known as relative humidity. Without getting too scientific, relative humidity (RH) is the level of humidity in the air, at a particular temperature, relative to what the air could hold at its potential maximum. The RH value is expressed as a percentage. Broadly speaking, the warmer the air, the more moisture it can hold; so as air is warmed - without increasing moisture content - the RH percentage value drops.

For instance, If we enter a room with a temperature of 18° celsius (65° F) and a relative humidity of 50% then we raise the temperature to 25° C, the RH value would drop to perhaps 38%. The change occurs, not because moisture is taken from the air, but because the amount of moisture the warmer air can hold increases, thereby decreasing the relative value of the moisture already present.

The answer to preventing nosebleeds in winter is to increase the humidity content of the air in our homes and workspaces. (We can't do much to change what's going on outside!) Cool mist and steam humidifiers are readily available in geographical regions with cold climates and are accessible as easily as conducting an online search or by paying a visit to a local department store.

I run both cool mist and steam humidifiers in my home and office during winter. I try to maintain a relative humidity level in the area of 45% at a temperature around 25° celsius (77° F).

And, as a further precaution, until I've met with my plastic surgeon I will be making a thorough inspection of all distant corners before making any romantic advances.

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Comments 26 comments

Green Lotus profile image

Green Lotus 7 years ago from Atlanta, GA

Great hub niteriter. Laughed out loud as usual. So informative too!....and I always thought nosebleeds were caused by dried boogers.

Niteriter profile image

Niteriter 7 years ago from Canada Author

A visit from you, Green Lotus, is always a pleasant event. And your flattery always gives me a lift that lasts for days! Maybe my next Hub will be about boogers...

wyanjen profile image

wyanjen 7 years ago from Wyandotte Michigan


I'm not so much a nose bleeder, but dammit - do I have a problem with swollen sinuses in the cold.

Sinuses are situated in an inaccessible position inside the face.

The most effective remedy involves Vicks Vapor Rub and Tennessee whiskey.

Great hub :-)


Niteriter profile image

Niteriter 7 years ago from Canada Author

Why Jen, I'm shocked as all get out! A sweet innocent girl like you with personal knowledge of Tennessee whiskey! (Pssst! Would you care for a swig from my jug o' Jack?)

prettydarkhorse profile image

prettydarkhorse 7 years ago from US

hehehehe, fine, thank you very much niteriter, you did lie to me, you said you live in the mountains like a eunuch you have that meter though, just kidding, that's what it is you get punched because of advances hehehe, why cant you not just sell the idea of hygrometer, and in doing it, you also make us laugh, your a genius nite, and yes you always make me laugh, thanks thanks thanks again,You make my day, Maita

Niteriter profile image

Niteriter 7 years ago from Canada Author

Any time you visit me, Maita, I feel good. I'm sorry I'm a liar but it's just my nature. I always start my Hubs with good intentions but I get carried away by the stories that come crawling out of my menory; and then I end up with stuff like this one. Maybe I'll grow up someday. Cheers!

alexandriaruthk profile image

alexandriaruthk 7 years ago from US

good one!

Niteriter profile image

Niteriter 7 years ago from Canada Author

Thanks for the visit, alexandria. I'm sure I'll be seeing you around!

ralwus 6 years ago

Well indeed thae nose knows. bleh, Tennessee whiskey. Bourbon or Scotch, much better. I have a built in humidifier on me furnace, helps so much. You forgot the dreaded static cling. I was in misery a few years back havin' a chemo treatment. One of the Nurses had that static problem. I was crackin' up and the other Nurses and patients heard me gigglin' and I pointed it out to them, her pant leg hiked up almost to her knee in the back. We were all laughing at that. Now the nose bleed is not so funny, it would be if the nose was down by yer ass. Noses are funny anyway, 'cept those lil' button ones on cute girls.

Hey, BTW, email me from my profile, I have something very important to discuss wi' ye. You lost yer contact button.

Niteriter profile image

Niteriter 6 years ago from Canada Author

It's a true pleasure to see you back in full uniform! I hope to have you laughing at my nose for many years to come. Welcome back!

Ben Zoltak profile image

Ben Zoltak 6 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

Hard to say which was funnier, this line:

"The nose, stuck out there all by itself like a lonely sentinel, gets no reprieve or shelter from the dry air all around." Haha, that's great.

Or the dialogue between you and Green Lotus about boogers in the beginning of this comments section. Glad I don't have to vote, but I might lean on boogers, both hypothetically and actually. Another hilarious collection of funny bones here Niteriter. Also, you might try using a neti pot or some nasal saline, but I'm no expert. For some reason salt is good for driveways and also ill positioned protruding sensory appendages.

Niteriter profile image

Niteriter 6 years ago from Canada Author

Hi there, Ben. It appears that the rumours of your abduction by aliens were greatly exaggerated. Good news all around it seems, aliens included.

Once again, your keen power of perception makes a subtle appearance. Applying salt to a protruding sensory appendage is a treatment option that escapes many a well trained medical professional.

Crazdwriter 6 years ago

The poor nose is always the first to be picked on on the face lol and yes I hate dry weather...though it is not as severe I do get a little blood in my left nostril when the air is dry or even just when the weather changes...*sigh* Oh well great hub niteriter. A lot of info that is helpful and yep I laughed when reading this hub. I cringed thogh when I saw the picture.

Niteriter profile image

Niteriter 6 years ago from Canada Author

Mrs. Writer, it's always a chest-thumping pleasure to get a visit from you. I wouldn't worry too much about my battered face; the truth and I are seldom on speaking terms. I spend too much time with my photo editing software so the truth makes me sleep in the other room. Such a witch!

It occurred to me a while ago that if I learned to spell we could be relatives. I bet you could write a Hub about that. I'd try it myself except I have a nasty habit of wandering off topic. And I often end up in embarrassing places... too risky!

prettydarkhorse profile image

prettydarkhorse 6 years ago from US

Hey I a glad you are back, YEHEY, Maita

Niteriter profile image

Niteriter 6 years ago from Canada Author

Hey, Maita! Your happiness is the fuel for my very existence. So now you know when I say "Whatever makes you happy makes me happy," you can be sure I'm not just kidding around! It's always good to see you. Cheers!

Beth100 profile image

Beth100 6 years ago from Canada

The humidifier helps tonnes. As does polysporin (yup, dab a little on a Q-tip and apply it up there...) -- a little tip from a ENT. If all else fails, why don't we move somewhere tropical? :)

Niteriter profile image

Niteriter 6 years ago from Canada Author

Thanks for the tip, Beth; you know, with the Q and all. I'm quite impressed that you are practiced in the field of otolaryngology as well as in the field of canines. A good multi-skilled Canadian girl!

I best like your suggestion of moving somewhere tropical. I gotta go check my AdSense to see if I have enough for airfare.

Thanks for visiting.

Lynda Gary profile image

Lynda Gary 6 years ago

Love your hubs, as always. When I make the time to read, you are always the first hubber I seek. And I STILL say, you need to spend your time seeking traditional publishing venues...

About that dry air: My daughter suffered so badly, we built my current home to accommodate her sensitivity. I installed under-floor radiant head to eliminate the "scorched air" problem. Her nosebleeds disappeared. Plants survive the winters, the furniture doesn't crack, and I don't spend twice as much on expensive face creams during those winter months. When I was a college student, I lived in an apt. that had wall radiators. NOT the same thing as under-floor radiant heat. I had to keep a bowl of water on top of the radiator less I die of dehydration. Ah, the good ole days...

Niteriter profile image

Niteriter 6 years ago from Canada Author

Hi, Lynda. You know how susceptible I am to flattery yet you just go ahead and flatter me anyway! If you don't stop I'll start singing Buddy Holly songs again!

Thanks for visiting. Cheers!

Danny Decay profile image

Danny Decay 6 years ago from Winter Park, Florida

Awesome Hub, especially for those of us mongrels that prefer the outdoors. But when we do manage to vacation to our favorite sofa, it's nice to know about things like hygrometers, so big thumbs up to the useful info. YOU'VE DONE IT AGAIN, cheers.

Niteriter profile image

Niteriter 6 years ago from Canada Author

Thanks, Danny for the visit and the supportive comment. I'm not around HubPages as much as I'd like to be but it's always fun to return to a greeting like yours. Best wishes.

kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 5 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

Hey, nite, Voted Up, Awesome, Interesting. Nothing funny or beautiful about nosebleeds which I suffer from occasionally--many times in public when I am under stress caused from my Accelerated Fibromyalgia and Neurothopy in my nerve ends...in short, Pain 24/7..use meds 365, shots in the spine every 3 months...no use complaining. Life is not fair. No even God promised that life was fair. Anyway, YOUR profile did NOT have a Contact niteriter button to tell you: A SINCERE THANK YOU for following me. I am very new to the hubs thing, and I ask that you be patient with me as I learn the in’s and out’s of hubbing. I value my followers and I shall not take this warm gesture of yours for granted. I also will write hubs that will be educational, entertaining, a bit dramatic and many times funny. If any any time my hubs offend or upset you, simply tell me then and I will remedy the situation pronto. Again, THANK YOU! Sincerely, Kenneth

Niteriter profile image

Niteriter 4 years ago from Canada Author

Thanks, Kenneth, for this thoughtful comment. As I mentioned in the comment previous to yours, I am not around as much as I'd like to be, but I certainly need to apologize to you for letting nine months go by without responding. I don't know how I missed you; a great big thank you to you as well.

pennyofheaven profile image

pennyofheaven 4 years ago from New Zealand

Haha you made me laugh again. I love how you weave important facts in amongst your humour. It makes for a more entertaining read. The humour will also make me remember the important facts by association. I marvel how you do this. Awesome again! Thank you!

Niteriter profile image

Niteriter 4 years ago from Canada Author

Ah Penny, you make my head swell to another hat size. Thank you for the very flattering words. You'll have to excuse me now, though; I'm still scratching around trying to find that wisdom I so sorely need.


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