Recognizing a broken nose: Self-care, treatment, and recovery (2022)

A broken nose is a common facial injury. Symptoms typically include pain and swelling around the nose, bleeding, nasal discharge, and difficulty breathing.

A broken nose, or nasal fracture, is when a bone in the nose becomes cracked or broken. There may also be damage to the connective tissue, or cartilage, inside the nose.

A broken nose can result from an impact to the face, potentially from a fall, violence, contact sport, or accident. Being able to recognize a broken nose can help ensure that a person or child receives appropriate treatment.

In this article, we explain how to recognize a broken nose and when to see a doctor. We also cover diagnosis, self-care, medical treatments, recovery, causes, risk factors, and prevention tips.

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The signs and symptoms of a broken nose are similar in adults and children.

They typically include pain, swelling, redness, and bruising around the nose. A person may also have cuts or scrapes on the face and bruising around the eyes.

Other symptoms that can help people identify a broken nose include:

  • nosebleeds
  • a runny nose
  • the sensation of having a blocked nose
  • difficulty breathing through the nose
  • a crunching noise when touching the nose
  • a crooked or misshapen nose

When to see a doctor

(Video) How to Fix a Broken Nose without Sedation (Closed Nasal Reduction)

An adult or child with a suspected broken nose should see a doctor if:

  • the swelling persists for several days
  • the nose is misshapen or crooked
  • the pain is severe or persistent
  • it is difficult to breathe through the nose once the swelling goes down
  • nosebleeds occur regularly
  • fever or chills occur

It is important to call 911 or go to the nearest emergency department if:

  • there is severe or persistent bleeding
  • it becomes difficult to breathe
  • there is a large open wound on the face
  • there is broken glass or other debris inside the nose

Immediate medical attention is necessary if an adult or child has signs of a head injury, such as:

  • clear, watery fluid coming out of the nose
  • a severe headache
  • blurred vision
  • loss of consciousness
  • difficulty speaking or moving
  • confusion or memory loss
  • seizures

A doctor can usually diagnose a broken nose by carrying out a visual inspection and a physical examination of the person’s face. They may:

  • ask about symptoms and how the injury occurred
  • look for swelling, bruising, and bleeding
  • press gently on the nose and surrounding areas
  • check the inside of the nasal passage

The doctor may apply an anesthetic to numb the affected area if a person is experiencing pain or discomfort during the examination.

Further investigations might sometimes be necessary. A doctor may order a CT scan or an X-ray to check for other injuries or complications.

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People can often treat a broken nose at home if the injury is not serious or causing other problems. However, a person should not attempt to realign their nose themselves if it is misshapen or crooked.

(Video) How to treat a broken nose: tips and tricks from a facial plastic surgeon

To manage a broken nose at home:

  • Treat nosebleeds by sitting down and leaning forward to prevent the blood from entering the throat.
  • Apply an ice pack to the injury for 15 to 20 minutes, several times a day.
  • Take over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, to relieve pain and swelling.
  • Treat minor wounds by cleaning them and covering them with a dressing.
  • Elevate the head while lying down to reduce swelling.
  • Avoid picking or blowing the nose.

People with large cuts or gashes on their face should see a healthcare professional, as stitches or a medical dressing may be necessary to close and protect the wound while it heals.

For people with more severe pain and swelling, a doctor can prescribe stronger pain relievers if OTC medications are not effective.

People with severe injuries or damage to the nose may require manual realignment or surgery. We discuss these medical treatments below:

Manual realignment

A person with a misshapen or crooked nose may require a doctor to realign the bones manually. This procedure should restore the appearance of the nose and resolve any difficulties in breathing through it.

When performing a manual realignment on a person with a broken nose, a doctor may:

  • use an anesthetic nasal spray or administer an injection to numb the affected area
  • use a speculum and other medical tools to realign the broken bones and damaged cartilage
  • pack the nose and place a dressing on the outside to keep the bones and cartilage in place
  • prescribe antibiotics to prevent infection

If it has been more than 2 weeks since the injury occurred, manual realignment is usually no longer an option, and a doctor may recommend surgery to repair the nose instead.

Surgery

A doctor may recommend surgery to individuals with a broken nose if the injury:

  • is severe
  • involves multiple broken bones
  • involves damage to the nasal septum or is affecting breathing

For some people with a misshapen or crooked nose, a doctor may be able to realign the bones manually without surgery. However, manual realignment is usually only an option if the injury occurred less than 2 weeks ago.

It may sometimes be necessary for a person to wait for 2 to 3 months following the injury before undergoing surgery. This period of waiting allows the swelling to go down and the bones to heal before a surgeon attempts to restore the original appearance of the nose.

Nasal fractures typically begin to heal within a few days, but it may take a week or so for the pain and swelling to go away completely. While recovering from a broken nose, it is advisable to avoid activities that could further damage it, such as playing contact sports.

If there are complications, recovery may take longer. Complications arising from a broken nose can include:

  • A deviated septum, which is where the thin wall between the nostrils moves out of alignment. A person may require surgery to fix a deviated septum, particularly if it is affecting breathing through the nose.
  • Cartilage damage. Depending on the severity of this damage, a person may require surgery.
  • Septal hematoma, where pools of clotted blood block the nostrils. It is important for people to seek prompt medical treatment for this condition.

Nasal deformities that arise from a broken nose are usually permanent if a person does not receive corrective treatment.

(Video) How To Tell If Your Nose Is Broken

Forceful impacts to a person’s face can result in a broken nose. According to a small study from 2013, common causes of a broken nose include:

  • violence
  • falls
  • accidents, such as motor vehicle collisions
  • sporting injuries

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A broken nose can happen to anyone, but certain activities and factors can increase a person’s risk. These include:

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  • doing contact sports, such as football or boxing
  • participating in activities where falls or collisions are possible, such as skiing or riding a bicycle
  • engaging in physical fights
  • traveling in a motor vehicle, especially without a seat belt
  • living with domestic violence

Broken noses are also more common in children and older adults, as these individuals often have a lower bone mass and are more at risk of falls.

It is not always possible to prevent a broken nose. However, a person can take certain steps to reduce their risk. These include:

  • wearing protective clothing and a helmet when playing contact sports and engaging in activities with a risk of falls or collisions, such as skiing, horse riding, and using a bicycle or motorcycle
  • wearing a seat belt at all times when traveling in a motor vehicle
  • wearing suitable shoes to prevent falls
  • using walking sticks or other mobility aids if unsteady when moving about

Parents and caregivers may wish to take extra precautions to safeguard children against falls and other accidents. These precautions can include:

  • installing stair gates and other safety aids in the home
  • removing rugs and other fall hazards
  • ensuring that children wear appropriate and well-fitting shoes
  • discouraging children from running or playing on slippery or uneven surfaces
  • encouraging children to play on soft surfaces, such as grass

Broken noses are a common injury that can result from any forceful impact to the face. While it can be painful and distressing, a person can often treat a broken nose with simple home care, such as ice packs and OTC pain relievers.

People should seek medical treatment for a misshapen nose or if their symptoms are severe or do not improve after a few days.

It is important to seek immediate medical attention if a broken nose leads to breathing difficulties or heavy bleeding or if there are signs of a head injury.

Reconstructive surgery is an option for people who are not happy with the appearance of their nose following the break or for those who continue to experience breathing difficulties after it heals.

FAQs

How do I know my broken nose is healing? ›

The best time to fix a broken nose is after the swelling has gone down - usually after 3 days from the injury. After 3 Days - After a few days, the soft tissue swelling inside the nose will have gone down and the dried blood will have cleared away. You should now be able to breath through the nose at this time.

How do you self treat a broken nose? ›

Act quickly. When the break first occurs, breathe through your mouth and lean forward to reduce the amount of blood that drains into your throat. Use ice. Apply ice packs or cold compresses immediately after the injury, and then at least four times a day for the first 24 to 48 hours to reduce swelling.

How can I make my broken nose heal faster? ›

Symptom Relief
  1. Rest. Try to keep away from any activity where you could bump your nose.
  2. Ice your nose for 20 minutes, every 1 to 2 hours while awake. Do not apply ice directly to the skin.
  3. Take pain medicine if necessary.
  4. Keep your head elevated to help reduce swelling and improve breathing.
28 Mar 2020

Can a fractured nose heal on its own? ›

A broken nose usually heals on its own within 3 weeks. Get medical help if it's not getting better or your nose has changed shape.

How do I know if my nose injury is serious? ›

Get medical help right away if:
  1. Bleeding will not stop.
  2. Clear fluid keeps draining from the nose.
  3. You suspect a blood clot in the septum.
  4. You suspect a neck or head injury.
  5. The nose looks deformed or out of its usual shape.
  6. The person is having difficulty breathing.

What happens if you leave a broken nose untreated? ›

Initial symptoms of a broken nose are typically swelling, tenderness, black eyes and in some cases, difficulty breathing through the nose. If left untreated, nasal fractures can not only lead to long-term cosmetic problems (crooked nose), it can lead to breathing problems caused by nasal obstruction and/or collapse.

How long does a broken nose take to heal? ›

Broken noses usually heal within six weeks.

Should I go to the ER for a broken nose? ›

Go to a hospital emergency room or see a health care provider immediately if: You cannot stop the nose from bleeding. The nostril or nasal septum is crooked or out of place. The person has clear drainage from one or both nostrils or a grape-like swelling inside the nose on the septum.

What are the after effects of a broken nose? ›

Nasal congestion. A deviated, shifted, or perforated septum. Ongoing nose and sinus infections, with the risk of more severe infections like meningitis. Sleeping issues and snoring problems.

Can you break your nose without knowing? ›

Nasal fractures often go unnoticed by both physicians and patients as a combination of the symptoms, including tenderness, hemorrhaging, and deformity, may not occur for long or at all. Additional symptoms of nasal fractures may include: Tenderness. Swelling.

Can a nose be swollen but not broken? ›

Swelling and bruising of the outer nose without a fracture is common. It can be mistaken for a broken nose. The swelling will be gone in 4 or 5 days.

How should you sleep with a broken nose? ›

Sleep with your head slightly raised until the swelling goes down. Prop up your head and shoulders on pillows. Ask your doctor when it's okay to return to your normal activities.

How do I reduce swelling in my nose? ›

Saline nasal irrigation, with nasal sprays or solutions, reduces drainage and rinses away irritants and allergies. Oral or injected corticosteroids. These medications are used to relieve inflammation from severe sinusitis, especially if you also have nasal polyps.

How do you tape a broken nose? ›

How to tape nose post Rhinoplasty - YouTube

Can you break the tip of your nose? ›

Yes. It is very possible to "fracture" the cartilage of the nose. Surgery is typically indicated if there is either a cosmetic deformity (ie. a change to the external appearance of your nose) or a functional issue such as difficulty breathing.

What do you do if you hit your nose hard? ›

How can you care for yourself at home?
  1. Put ice or a cold pack on your nose for 10 to 20 minutes at a time. Put a thin cloth between the ice pack and your skin. ...
  2. Sleep with your head slightly raised until the swelling goes down. ...
  3. Ask your doctor when it's okay to return to your normal activities.
  4. Be safe with medicines.

What can happen if you hit your nose too hard? ›

a swollen nose or swelling around your nose, which can cause your nose to look bent or crooked even if it's not broken. bleeding from your nose. a stuffy nose that won't drain, which can mean your nasal passages are blocked. bruising around your nose and eyes, which usually disappears after two or three days.

Can a broken nose get infected? ›

After a severe nose injury, it is possible for one or both nostril passages to become blocked. It is also common for air flow problems to occur due to a valve prolapse or deviated septum. A fractured or broken nose may also be more susceptible to a sinus infection.

Does your nose change shape after you break it? ›

A broken nose is identifiable by pain, redness and swelling, changing nose shape or difficulty breathing. And while it's painful and uncomfortable, it can be corrected by either manual adjustment or broken nose surgery.

How long does swelling Last nose injury? ›

Most doctors like to wait for any swelling to go down before they set a broken nose. Most swelling goes down after 2 or 3 days, but it may take as long as 7 to 14 days.

How long should a broken nose headache last? ›

Answer: Headache After Nasal Trauma

It is unusual to have a headache more than 2 weeks after nasal trauma. Consult with a Plastic Surgeon as soon as possible for an exam.

Does broken cartilage in nose heal? ›

The nasal bones and nasal cartilage will heal themselves after a traumatic injury, but they will heal in the position that they are in. If you are noticing a change in the shape of your nose, it is likely that either the bones and/or cartilage were injured and are not aligned properly, and need to be re-aligned.

Can nose cartilage break? ›

If you've taken a hard blow to the face, you may have broken nose cartilage. It's actually pretty easy and common to break your nose during a facial injury since your nose sticks out from the rest of your face.

Why Do Broken noses cause black eyes? ›

Answer: Nasal fracture insetting

The veins underneath your eyes are contiguous with your nasal bones. Any trauma can lead to bruising and swelling under your eyes. Your doctor should evaluate you, however, it is common to have some ecchymoses (bruising).

Can I sleep with a broken nose? ›

Answer: Sleeping Position after Nose Injury

As your healing will probably be similar to that of a traditional rhinoplasty, laying on your side 10-14 days afterwards is usually acceptable (assuming pressure on your nose).

What doctor should I see for nose injury? ›

If you suspect your nose may be broken, you should see an ENT (ears, nose, and throat) specialist, or otolaryngologist, within one week of the injury. If you are seen within one to two weeks (one week for children), it may be possible to repair your nose immediately.

When does a broken nose need surgery? ›

Severe breaks, multiple breaks or breaks that have gone untreated for more than 14 days may not be candidates for closed reduction. In these cases, surgery to realign the bones and reshape your nose (rhinoplasty) may be necessary.

Does nose tissue grow back? ›

Cartilage, which covers and cushions the surface of joints, generally does not regenerate once damaged, but "cartilage cells from the nasal septum (the part of the nose that separates the nostrils) are known to have a great capacity to grow and form new cartilage."

Can broken nose cause headaches? ›

Answer: Broken nose and headaches,

A recent or an old nasal fracture can cause headaches. The bottom line is, you need to be evaluated by a physician to determine if the broken nose is indeed the cause of your headaches or if there is another cause.

Is there a bone in your nose? ›

Your nose is supported by bone (at the back and bridge) and by cartilage (in the front).

How do I know if my nose is broken Reddit? ›

Symptoms of a nasal fracture

A broken nose could cause bleeding, bruising and mucus. If you think you have a broken nose, you might also have black eyes, a cut on the nose or a nosebleed and you might experience a crunching or cracking sound if you touch your nose.

Can ibuprofen reduce nasal swelling? ›

Yes. Over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers and decongestants may help relieve facial pain and sinus congestion associated with acute sinusitis.

What happens if you put ice on your nose? ›

Utilize Cool Compresses

However, you should never place ice or a cold compress directly on your nose or skin. Use a thin cloth to form a barrier between the ice and your skin. Putting ice or a cold compress directly on your nose can alter blood flow to the area and put pressure on the new nose shape.

How long until swelling goes down? ›

Inflammation starts within the first hour or two after injury, peaks within 1-3 days but lasts at least a couple of weeks. This phase is when you will experience swelling and some heat around your injury. This is entirely normal and a natural part of your body's tissue healing process.

How do you shower with a broken nose? ›

Protect your face and be careful not to bump your nose. You may wash your face being careful to only cleanse the area surrounding the area around the nasal tape/splint. You may shower 2 days after surgery. If you shower, use a dry washcloth or plastic wrap over splint/tape.

How much does it cost to fix a broken nose? ›

How Much Does a Nasal Bone Fracture Repair Cost? On MDsave, the cost of a Nasal Bone Fracture Repair ranges from $2,850 to $6,014.

How long does it take for a broken nose to fully heal? ›

Broken noses usually heal within six weeks.

How long does it take for swelling from a broken nose to go down? ›

The swelling will be gone in 4 or 5 days. Then the shape of the nose will look normal. But the bruising may take 2 weeks to clear. Fracture of the Nose.

What are the long term effects of a broken nose? ›

Initial symptoms of a broken nose are typically swelling, tenderness, black eyes and in some cases, difficulty breathing through the nose. If left untreated, nasal fractures can not only lead to long-term cosmetic problems (crooked nose), it can lead to breathing problems caused by nasal obstruction and/or collapse.

How do you sleep with a broken nose? ›

Sleep with your head slightly raised until the swelling goes down. Prop up your head and shoulders on pillows. Ask your doctor when it's okay to return to your normal activities.

How do I reduce swelling in my nose? ›

Put ice or a cold pack on your nose for 10 to 20 minutes at a time. Put a thin cloth between the ice pack and your skin. Try to do this every 1 to 2 hours for the first 3 days (when you are awake) or until the swelling goes down. Sleep with your head slightly raised until the swelling goes down.

How do you tape a broken nose? ›

How to tape nose post Rhinoplasty - YouTube

Can you break the tip of your nose? ›

Yes. It is very possible to "fracture" the cartilage of the nose. Surgery is typically indicated if there is either a cosmetic deformity (ie. a change to the external appearance of your nose) or a functional issue such as difficulty breathing.

Can you break your nose without bleeding? ›

Answer: Broken nose without bleeding/swelling, and does it matter? Trauma to the nose can cause a variety of issues such as a non-displaced nasal fracture which can be left alone. A displaced nasal fracture will usually require surgery to reset the nasal bones.

Can a broken nose be fixed years later? ›

Can I still have it repaired? Absolutely! Reduction of nasal fractures, septoplasty, rhinoplasty, and multiple other techniques are offered by Dr. Greene, which can repair your nose even decades after your fracture occurred.

Does nose tissue grow back? ›

Cartilage, which covers and cushions the surface of joints, generally does not regenerate once damaged, but "cartilage cells from the nasal septum (the part of the nose that separates the nostrils) are known to have a great capacity to grow and form new cartilage."

Is a broken nose an emergency? ›

Broken noses are a medical emergency if: You cannot control bleeding. You have difficulty breathing. Other serious injuries are suspected, especially injuries of the spine or neck.

Videos

1. Immediate steps after nose injury on sports field - Dr. Satish Babu K
(Doctors' Circle World's Largest Health Platform)
2. SYMPTOMS OF BROKEN NOSE
(Health Apta)
3. ENT Nasal Bone Fracture Depressed Angulated Treatment Nose Hit middle third face trauma
(MBBS VPASS)
4. WHY DID NOBODY WARN ME? Emotional nose job reveal // My Septoplasty & Rhinoplasty Journey - Pt 2
(Nathalie Victoria)
5. What if your Nose gets Fractured ? Dr Sunil Richardson
(Richardsons Face Hospitals)
6. If one waits for too long to get broken nose fixed, will it heal incorrectly? - Dr. Srikanth V
(Doctors' Circle World's Largest Health Platform)

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