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HealthInfo Waitaha Canterbury

Broken nose

Ihu tāwhatiwhati

A broken nose (also called a fractured nose) is a common injury after a knock to your face.

Broken noses are usually swollen, red and sore. You may also have bruising, a bleeding nose or feel a crunching when you move your nose. Your nose might look bent, or you might find it hard to breathe through your nose.


A knock to your head or face can also cause more serious injuries. You should go to the hospital Emergency Department as soon as possible if:

Illustration showing a septal haematoma (blood clot or swelling) in both nostrilsYou should see a health professional quickly if you have:

Diagnosing a broken nose

A health professional will usually be able to tell your nose is broken from the way it looks.

You will probably not need an X-ray of your broken nose unless your health professional thinks another bone in your face is broken.

Treating a broken nose

Most broken noses can be managed at home. To reduce swelling, hold an ice pack against your nose for 15 minutes, once an hour for the first few days. Make sure there is a cloth between the ice and your skin, so you do not damage your skin.

The swelling will usually go down after a week, and the bruising will go in about two weeks.

You should see your general practice team if:

If your nose is severely broken, you may need to get it straightened (realigned) by an otolaryngologist. Otolaryngologists were previously called ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialists. It is best to do this within two weeks of the injury. You might need to wait till there is less swelling before your doctor can decide if your nose needs to be straightened.

You will usually be given a local anaesthetic that can numb your nose for two to four hours before straightening. If you are unhappy with either how you are breathing or the shape of your nose, ACC might cover the cost of private surgery. Talk to your health professional about this.

On the next page: Caring for your broken nose after surgery

Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed October 2023.


Page reference: 171363

Review key: HIBKN-171363