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Broken Nose: How to Care for Your Child

A broken bone in the nose can make it look crooked, swollen, and bruised. There may also be bruising around the eyes. If treatment is needed, it's usually done a few days after the injury when the swelling goes down. Here's how to care for your child.

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  • Follow your health care provider's recommendations for:

    • When to see the ear, nose, and throat (ENT) doctor. Waiting too long can make it harder to treat the broken nose. Bring a picture of your child from before the injury so the doctor can see the original shape of the nose.

    • Giving any pain medicines. This may include acetaminophen (such as Tylenol® or a store brand), ibuprofen (such as Advil®, Motrin®, or a store brand), or prescription pain medicine. Some pain medicines include the same or similar ingredients. To avoid giving too much, give the medicines exactly as your health care provider recommends.

    • When it's OK for your child to return to sports.

  • To help with swelling:

    • Have your child sleep with their head raised.

    • Put an ice pack wrapped in a thin towel on the nose for 10–15 minutes a few times a day.

  • Don't let your child pick or blow their nose.

  • If a nosebleed happens, have your child sit up and tilt the head slightly forward. Gently squeeze the sides of the nostrils (soft part of the nose) together using the index finger and thumb and hold it constantly for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, check to see if the bleeding has stopped. If not, pinch the soft parts of the nose again for 10 minutes.

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Your child:

  • has new or worse pain or swelling of the nose or around the nose

  • gets a fever

  • gets more than one nosebleed

  • has more tears coming from one or both eyes than before the injury

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Your child:

  • starts having trouble breathing through the nose or it gets worse

  • has a lump inside the nose that you can see

  • has clear drainage from the nose

  • has a nosebleed that doesn't stop after two or three tries of applying pressure for 10 minutes each

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How do health care providers know if someone's nose is broken? Health care providers usually can tell if a child's nose is broken by asking questions and doing an exam. If it's not clear if the nose is broken, they might do X-rays or other imaging studies, but these aren't usually needed for a mild nose injury.

How are broken noses treated? Sometimes there is just a tiny crack in one of the bones and no treatment is needed. Other times the broken bones may be pushed out of place and the ENT doctor needs to move them back into place. They do this after giving medicine so the child doesn't feel pain. If the bones can't be moved back into place or the injury is severe, a child might get surgery while under general anesthesia (the child is asleep and doesn't feel any pain).

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