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If you suffer from winter nosebleeds, you know that everything from sleeping to blowing out a booger can suddenly make you gush. Why exactly does your nose decide to act up this time of year? 

Look to your lips for the answer: Dried out, heated air can make your skin and lips become cracked in the winter. Like skin, the mucous membrane lining of your nose has a natural barrier, explains Ryan J. Soose, M.D., an ear, nose, and throat surgeon from the University of Pittsburgh. When winter air causes the lining to dry out, it can crack, leaving blood vessels exposed. 

“This then often leads to a vicious cycle of bleeding, scabbing, crusting, picking, and more bleeding,” he says. (Thanks for the visual, doc.) 

Common colds, sinus infections, and indoor allergens like dust mites and mold are also more common in the winter, leaving your nose prone to inflammation—which enlarges blood vessels, irritates the lining of the nose, and causes bleeding.

(Nosebleeds aren’t the only thing you have to worry about this season. Check out 26 Ways to Avoid Getting Sick in the Winter.) 

To prevent an abrupt burst, coat the inside of your nose (about a half-inch in) with Vaseline or another moisturizer once or twice a day, suggests James Stankiewicz, M.D., head of the ear, nose, and throat department at Loyola University Medical Center. (Just make sure nobody’s watching you pick your nose.) 

You can also use a saline gel or spray, moisturize with cocoa butter, run a cool-mist humidifier next to your bed, and avoid rubbing or blowing your nose too hard, Dr. Soose recommends.

“It’s all about moisture, moisture, moisture,” he says. “The best treatment of nosebleeds is prevention. Keeping the nose as moist as possible can help reduce the frequency and severity of nosebleeds long term.” 

If you do start gushing, your best lines of defense are a nasal decongestant spray and pressure. If you’ve got some handy, spray a couple drops of the decongestant on a tissue, place it in your nostril, then apply pressure to the soft area of your nose, suggests Dr. Soose. You can also try sucking on ice, which can help restrict the blood vessels in your nose and stop bleeding, 

If your nosebleeds are severe or won’t respond to easy remedies, visit an ear, nose, and throat specialist, Dr. Soose says. Nasal disorders like deviated septum, growths in the nose, and sinus infections—and certain medical conditions like bleeding disorder and autoimmune disease—can all contribute to nosebleeds. 

(Blood isn’t even close to your schnoz’s weirdest export. Discover The Grossest Things That Come out of Your Nose.)