Nose injuries often occur
during play, sports, accidents, fights, and falls. Pain, swelling, and bruising
are common, even with minor injuries. Home treatment can usually help relieve
It may be hard to tell if your
nose is broken. Swelling can make your nose look crooked even if it is not
broken. When the swelling goes down after a few days, it is easier to tell if
your nose is really crooked. Most doctors prefer to check an injured nose
soon after the swelling has gone down. Sometimes, testing may be needed, such
computed tomography (CT) scan of the head, if other
facial injuries or fractures are suspected. See a picture of a
Seriousness of a nose injury
Whether or not your nose
is broken, a nose injury is more serious when:
The skin of your nose is cut or
punctured, especially if you think your nose may be broken. This increases your
A blood clot forms in the
tissue that separates the nostrils (septum). This
can create a hole (perforation) in the septum or cause the bridge of the nose
to collapse (saddle nose deformity).
You think the injury may have
been caused by
abuse. Physical abuse often causes bruises, burns,
fractures, head injuries, and other injuries. If you suspect abuse, seek help.
You can call a local child or adult protective services agency, the police, a
spiritual adviser, or a health professional such as a doctor, nurse, or
persistent drainage from one or both nostrils. This may be caused by
cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) draining from the brain into
the nose (CSF rhinorrhea) and can occur after a head injury or after surgery on
the nose or ears. There is a chance you may get a CSF infection, such as
meningitis, which can affect the nervous system and be
Complications of a broken nose
Most broken noses heal
without problems. When problems develop, they can include:
A change in the size or shape of the nose, or a
crooked or bent nose. Multiple nose injuries, especially during childhood,
increase the risk of damage to the tissues and structures in the nose. This can
cause long-term problems.
such as meningitis or a
brain abscess, or other CSF infection.
Treatment of a simple fracture, when the
bone is still in place, usually includes pain medicine and nasal decongestants.
You may or may not need a nasal splint.
If your nose is broken and
out of place, it may need to be set. Most doctors like to wait for any swelling
to go down before setting a broken nose. Most swelling goes down after 2 or 3
days but may take as long as 7 to 14 days. After the nose is set, nasal packing
may be inserted and a splint may be applied. You may be given antibiotics to
help prevent infection if packing is used. Your doctor may want to recheck your
nose and remove the packing in 2 to 3 days.
When you have a nose injury, it is important to look for
other injuries to the head, face, and neck, such as a broken cheekbone, an eye
injury, an injury to the mouth or teeth, or a cervical spine injury. If you
think there are other injuries, use the topics in the Related Information
section to evaluate these injuries.
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First aid measures are important
after a nose injury.
Stop a nosebleed. Crying can make a
nosebleed worse. If your child has a nosebleed and is crying, speak to the
child in a quiet, relaxed manner. This will help reduce the child's fear. For
more information, see the topic
If you think that the nose is
broken, do not try to put a crooked nose back in place.
This may increase bleeding or deformity or cause further injury.
Measures to reduce pain, swelling, and bruising
Use ice. Cold will
reduce pain and swelling. Apply an
ice or cold pack immediately to prevent or minimize swelling. Apply the ice
or cold pack for 10 to 20 minutes, 3 or more times a day. Always keep a cloth
between your skin and the ice pack, and press firmly against all the curves of
the affected area. Do not apply ice for longer than 20 minutes at a time, and
do not fall asleep with the ice on your skin.
Keep your head
elevated, even while you sleep. This will help reduce swelling.
not take aspirin for the first 48 hours. Aspirin prolongs the clotting time of
blood and may cause more nose or facial bleeding. Also, do not give aspirin to anyone younger than 20 because of the risk of Reye syndrome, a rare but serious disease.
Do not smoke. Smoking slows healing because it decreases blood supply and
delays tissue repair. For more information, see the topic
Measures to relieve nasal stuffiness and promote sinus drainage
Drink plenty of fluids. Extra fluids help keep
mucus thin and draining, which may help prevent blockage of the sinuses.
Aspirin (also a nonsteroidal
anti-inflammatory drug), such as Bayer or Bufferin
Talk to your child’s doctor before switching back and
forth between doses of acetaminophen and ibuprofen. When you switch between two
medicines, there is a chance your child will get too much medicine.
Be sure to follow
these safety tips when you use a nonprescription medicine:
Carefully read and follow all
directions on the medicine bottle and box.
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.