Nose Injury

Is this your symptom?

  • Injury to the inside or outside of the nose
Types of Nose Injuries
  • Nosebleed. Even minor nose injuries cause a nosebleed. The bleeding will stop with the correct technique. If it keeps bleeding, you need to be seen.
  • Swollen Nose. Swelling and bruising of the outer nose (with no fracture) is common. It may look like a broken nose. The swelling goes away in 4 or 5 days and the nose shape will look normal. Bruising under they eyes and on the cheeks may take 2 weeks to clear.
  • Fracture of the Nose. Severe fractures of the nose (crooked nose) are usually reset the same day. This may need surgery. Mild fractures are often reset at 5 to 7 days after the injury. Caution: a nasal fracture must be re-set before 10 days.
  • Nasal Septal Hematoma (serious). A blood clot of the central wall of the nose. A red swelling appears at the edge of the nostrils. It needs to be drained.

When to Call for Nose Injury

Call 911 Now

  • Major bleeding that can't be stopped
  • Passed out (fainted) or too weak to stand
  • Bleeding from your nose after a head injury (even if you did not hit your nose)
  • You think you have a life-threatening emergency

Call Doctor or Seek Care Now

  • Nosebleed won't stop after 20 minutes of squeezing the nose correctly
  • Pointed object put in the nose and caused pain or bleeding
  • Skin is cut and No past tetanus shots
  • Foreign object in the nose and you can't get out
  • Severe pain and not better 2 hours after taking pain medicine
  • Nose looks crooked or deformed (not just swelling)
  • Breathing through the nose is completely blocked
  • A large cherry-like swelling at the edge of the nostrils
  • Nose becomes infected (fever, a yellow discharge, redness)
  • You think you have a serious injury
  • You think you need to be seen, and the problem is urgent

Contact Doctor Within 24 Hours

  • Shape of the nose has changed since the injury
  • Dirty cut or hard to clean and no tetanus shot for more than 5 years
  • Clean cut and no tetanus shot for more than 10 years
  • You think you need to be seen, but the problem is not urgent

Contact Doctor During Office Hours

  • You have other questions or concerns

Self Care at Home

  • Minor nose injury

Care Advice for Minor Injury of the Nose

  1. Nosebleed - How to Stop:
    • To stop a nosebleed, squeeze the soft parts of the lower nose together. Gently press them against the center wall.
    • Do this for 10 minutes to put pressure on the bleeding point.
    • Use the thumb and index finger in a pinching manner.
    • If the bleeding continues, move your point of pressure.
    • A cold pack on the nose may help.
    • Sit up or lean forward and breathe through the mouth during this process.
    • You may swallow some blood if you nose is bleeding a lot. Do not be alarmed if you are sick and you see some blood in the vomit.
    • Once the bleeding has stopped, avoid blowing or picking your nose.
  2. Skin Bleeding - How to Stop:
    • For any skin bleeding, put direct pressure on the wound.
    • Use a gauze pad or clean cloth.
    • Press for 10 minutes or until the bleeding has stopped.
    • Noses have a good blood supply which means they bleed a lot when injured. It also means they usually heal well.
  3. Clean the Cut:
    • After the skin bleeding has stopped, wash the area. Clean with soap and water for 5 minutes.
    • If a large area, use an antibiotic ointment (such as Polysporin). No prescription is needed.
    • Then, cover with a bandage for 1 day.
  4. Cold Pack for Pain:
    • For pain or swelling, use a cold pack. You can also use ice wrapped in a wet cloth.
    • Put it on the nose for 20 minutes.
    • Repeat in 1 hour, then as needed. Caution: avoid frostbite by wrapping the cold pack or ice. Do not put ice directly on the skin.
  5. Pain Medicine:
    • To help with the pain, take an acetaminophen product (such as Tylenol).
    • Another choice is an ibuprofen product (such as Advil). Ibuprofen works well for this type of pain.
    • Use as needed, but do not take more than the maximum recommended dosage as stated on the package.
    • If you are not sure what to take, ask a pharmacist.
  6. Concerns About Missing a Minor Nasal Fracture:
    • If a swollen nose is the only finding, usually it's not broken.
    • Even if it is broken, standard practice is to delay correction for a few days. This allows the swelling to go away. Reason: the swelling interferes with seeing the shape of the nose.
    • X-rays are often not helpful. Reason: most of the nose is cartilage. Injuries to the cartilage do not show up on an X-ray.
    • Looking at the nose after the swelling is gone is preferred. You can usually do this by day 4 or 5. This is the best way to tell if it is fractured. It will look different than it used to. Delayed correction also helps the surgeon better see what needs to be corrected.
    • Caution: If the nose is broken, a surgeon must re-set it. This should be done before the 10th day.
  7. What to Expect:
    • Nose pain and swelling usually peak on day 2.
    • They go away over 3 or 4 days.
    • Bruising may appear under both eyes.
    • Sleeping propped up will help limit pain and swelling.
  8. Call Your Doctor If:
    • Pain becomes severe
    • Nasal passage becomes blocked
    • Shape of the nose has not come back to normal after 4 days
    • Signs of infection occur (a yellow discharge, more tender to touch or fever)
    • You think you need to be seen
    • Your symptoms get worse

And remember, contact your doctor if you develop any of the 'Call Your Doctor' symptoms.

Disclaimer: this health information is for educational purposes only. You, the reader, assume full responsibility for how you choose to use it.


Last Reviewed: 10/11/2023 1:00:48 AM
Last Updated: 4/13/2023 1:00:43 AM

Copyright 2023 Schmitt Decision Logic LLC.

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