Nose Injury

Is this your symptom?

  • Injuries to the inside or outside of the nose

Some Basics...

  • There are many ways that people can injure their noses.
  • There are also many types of nose injuries. There are bones and cartilage in the nose that can be injured.
  • Treatment depends on the type of injury a person has. A doctor will know the right way to treat a nose injury.

Types of Nose Injuries

  • Bloody nose: Bleeding from one or both nostrils.
  • Bruised nose: Nose is swollen and bruised but not broken.
  • Fracture of the nose: A severe nose fracture that looks very crooked may need to be reset right away. This is done in the operating room. Most doctors do not reset mild fractures until 5-7 days after the injury.
  • Nasal septal hematoma
  • Scrape

Pain Scale

  • None: No pain. Pain score is 0 on a scale of 0 to 10.
  • Mild: The pain does not keep you from work, school, or other normal activities. Pain score is 1-3 on a scale of 0 to 10.
  • Moderate: The pain keeps you from working or going to school. It wakes you up from sleep. Pain score is 4-7 on a scale of 0 to 10.
  • Severe: The pain is very bad. It may be worse than any pain you have had before. It keeps you from doing any normal activities. Pain score is 8-10 on a scale of 0 to 10.

When to Call for Nose Injury

Call 911 Now

  • Knocked out (unconscious) for more than one minute
  • Major bleeding that can't be stopped
  • Fainted or too weak to stand after major blood loss
  • You think you have a life-threatening emergency

Call Doctor Now or Go to ER

  • Nosebleed won't stop after 20 minutes of pinching the nostrils closed
  • Skin is split open or gaping and may need stitches
  • Nose looks crooked or deformed (like a bad fracture)
  • Breathing through the nose is blocked on one or both sides
  • Black and blue skin around both eyes
  • You think you have a serious injury
  • You think you need to be seen, and the problem is urgent

Call Doctor Within 24 Hours

  • Shape of the nose has not returned to normal after 5 days
  • Tip of nose is very tender to touch
  • You think you need to be seen, but the problem is not urgent

Call Doctor During Office Hours

  • Last tetanus shot was over 10 years ago, for CLEAN cut or scrape
  • Last tetanus shot was over 5 years ago, for DIRTY cut or scrape
  • You have other questions or concerns

Self Care at Home

  • Minor nose injury

Care Advice for Minor Injury of the Nose

  1. What You Should Know:
    • There are many ways that people can injure their noses.
    • There are also many types of nose injuries. There are bones and cartilage in the nose that can be injured.
    • You can treat minor nose injuries at home.
    • Here is some care advice that should help.
  2. Treatment of Surface Cuts and Scrapes:
    • Use direct pressure for 10 minutes to stop any bleeding.
    • Wash the wound with soap and water for 5 minutes.
    • Put an antibiotic ointment on the wound. Cover large scrapes with an adhesive bandage (Band-Aid) or gauze dressing. Change the dressing daily.
  3. Treatment of Swelling or Bruise with Unbroken Skin:
    • Cold Pack: For pain or swelling, use a cold pack or ice wrapped in a wet cloth. Put it on the sore area for 20 minutes. Repeat 4 times on the first day, then as needed.
    • Heat Pack: If pain lasts more than 2 days, apply heat to the sore area. Use a heat pack, heating pad, or warm wet washcloth. Do this for 10 minutes, then as needed.
  4. Nosebleed:
    • First blow the nose to clear out any large blood clots.
    • Lean slightly forward. This keeps the blood from trickling down the back of your throat.
    • Place your thumb and index finger over each side of the soft lower portion of the nose. Firmly pinch the nostrils together for 10-15 minutes.
    • If the bleeding continues, move your point of pressure and repeat again for another 10-15 minutes.
  5. Concerns About a Broken (Fractured) Nose:
    • Not all swollen noses have a fracture.
    • Sometimes, even broken noses only need cold packs and pain medications.
    • Surgery to fix the nose is only needed when the nose is very deformed. Swelling gets in the way of diagnosis and treatment. It is normal to delay fixing nose fractures until the swelling has decreased.
    • Looking at the nose after the swelling is gone is the best way to tell if it is fractured. This is best done 5-7 days after the injury.
    • X-rays are often not helpful. Cartilage injuries do not show up on x-rays. Minor fractures are treated the same as a bruise.
  6. Pain Medicine for Nose Injury:
    • Take acetaminophen (Tylenol) if you have pain.
    • It is an over-the-counter (OTC) pain drug. You can buy it at the drugstore.
    • Use the lowest amount of a drug that makes your pain feel better.
    • Acetaminophen is safer than ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or naproxen (Aleve) in people over 65 years old.
    • Read the instructions and warnings on the package insert for all medicines you take.
  7. Call Your Doctor If:
    • Pain becomes severe
    • Shape of the nose has not returned to normal after 5 days
    • Signs of infection (a yellow discharge, increasing tenderness, or fever)
    • You think you need to be seen
    • You get worse

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

Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. It is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information.


Last Reviewed: 10/20/2017 1:26:02 AM
Last Updated: 5/17/2017 5:42:36 PM

Copyright 2000-2017 Health Navigator, Inc. All rights reserved.

Health Center