Print this topic

HealthInfo Aoraki-South Canterbury

Broken nose

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.

Important

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:

Image showing a septal haematoma in both nostrilsYou should see a doctor quickly if you have:

Diagnosing a broken nose

Usually a doctor can tell your nose is broken from the way your nose looks.

You probably won't need an X-ray of your broken nose unless your doctor thinks another bone in your face is broken.

Treating a broken nose

Man with a broken nose Most broken noses can be managed at home. To reduce swelling, hold an icepack 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 don't 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 GP if:

If your nose is severely broken, you may need to get it straightened (realigned) by an otolaryngologist – previously called an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialist. It's 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.

Usually, you will 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 doctor about this.

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

Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed May 2020.

Sources

Septal haematoma picture from Bruce Blaus, [CC BY-SA 4.0], from Wikimedia Commons

Page reference: 171363

Review key: HIBKN-171363