Disease, Condition & InjuryEars, nose & throatHead & neck conditions

Nose Fracture

(Broken Nose)

Nose fracture – Definition

A nose fracture is a break in the bones of the nose.

Nose fracture – Causes

A broken nose is caused by a blunt, hard blow to the nose. It often occurs along with injuries to other parts of the nose and face.

Nose fracture – Risk Factors

A risk factor is something that increases your chance of getting a disease, condition, or injury. Risk factors for a nose fracture include:

  • Any condition that causes frequent falls, such as:
    • Advanced age
    • Seizure disorder
    • Alcoholism
  • Previous nose fracture or nose injury
  • Participating in sports (especially contact sports)
  • Reckless behavior during recreational activities or driving
  • Failure to wear a seat belt (but airbags can also sometimes cause injury)

Nose fracture – Symptoms

Symptoms of a broken nose include:

  • Pain in the nose or surrounding area of the face
  • Swelling of the nose or surrounding area of the face
  • Bleeding from the nose (often heavy)
  • Difficulty breathing through the nose or nostril
  • Discoloration of the nose
  • Black eyes
  • Crooked or misshapen appearance of the nose (may not appear until swelling subsides)

Nose fracture – Diagnosis

The doctor will ask about your symptoms and how the injury occurred, and will examine your nose and face for:

  • Irregularities in the shape
  • Movement of the bones of the nose and face
  • Rough sensation when your nose is moved
  • Pain or tenderness to touch
  • Injury to the nasal septum (especially hematoma)
  • Any fluid from the nose (such as blood or even cerebrospinal fluid in severe cases)

Tests may include:

  • X-rays of the nose — usually not necessary, but may be used to confirm the fracture and check its location and severity.
  • CT scan — usually not necessary, but may be used to confirm the fracture and check its location and severity.

Nose fracture – Treatment

Treatment includes:


Apply ice or a cold pack to your nose for 15-20 minutes, several times a day for several days. This helps reduce pain and swelling. Wrap the ice or cold pack in a towel. Do not apply the ice directly to your skin.


The following drugs help reduce inflammation and pain:

  • Ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil)
  • Naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn)
  • Acetaminophen (Tylenol)
  • Aspirin

Setting the Bones

The doctor may:

  • Drain any blood that may have collected in the septum
  • Set the fracture by:
    • Moving the bone back to its normal position
    • Stabilizing the bone with gauze packing on the inside and a splint or tape on the outside


Surgery may be needed to set the fracture if:

  • The fracture is severe
  • The nose is severely misshapen
  • The fracture impairs breathing

If you are diagnosed with a nose fracture, follow your doctor’s instructions.

Nose fracture – Prevention

Broken noses may not always be preventable. To reduce your risk of a broken nose:

  • Wear protective headgear with face masks when playing contact sports, or when riding a bicycle or motorcycle.
  • Wear a seat belt when driving or riding in a car.

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