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Broken nose

A broken nose can be caused by injuries such as a punch to the face or a fall.

Although a broken nose feels and looks painful, in most cases the injuries will heal on their own. A broken nose can be cared for at home rather than needing medical attention as long as the skin and wall between the nostrils (septum) are intact. Always seek medical advice if you are concerned about an injury.

Broken nose symptoms

The symptoms of a broken nose include:

  • Painful, swollen red nose, tender to the touch
  • Deformed nose
  • Bruising around eyes
  • Nosebleed
  • Crackling or crunching nose when nose is touched
  • Difficulty breathing through the nose

When to go to A&E for a broken nose

Go to A&E for a broken nose if you have:

Hospital treatment for a broken nose

A hospital doctor may be able to realign the nose using instruments under local anaesthetic. More severe fractures may need an operation under general anaesthetic.

A broken nose needs to be realigned with 14 days of the injury.

Broken skin may need stitches.

Gauze packing may be needed to stop bleeding from the nose.

Follow-up treatment may be needed from a specialist, such as an ear, nose and throat surgeon (ENT), an oral and maxillofacial surgeon, or a plastic surgeon.

First aid and home care for a broken nose

  • Hold an ice pack or frozen vegetables wrapped in a cloth to the nose for 15-20 minutes every hour or so for the first few days after the injury
  • Take over-the-counter painkillers
  • For nosebleeds, hold the head forward
  • Keep the head propped up in bed to help reduce swelling
  • Use a nasal decongestant if breathing through the nose is difficult
  • While the nose is still swollen, avoid wearing glasses
  • If the nose is deformed, don't try to straighten it without medical attention

Seek medical advice if:

  • The pain from a broken nose is not helped by over the counter painkillers or if the pain becomes worse
  • After a few days the swelling hasn’t gone down
  • Nose breathing isn’t possible after swelling goes down
  • The nose is deformed or crooked
  • There are persistent nosebleeds
  • Fever is experienced

WebMD Medical Reference

Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks on August 21, 2017

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