First aid: Broken nose

What is it?

It's hard for active children to avoid getting their noses hit every once in a while. In fact, trauma to the nose accounts for the majority of injuries to the face in children. Most of the time, these misadventures lead to nothing more than a brief bit of pain and possibly a bruised ego. However, certain nasal injuries can cause significant damage. The inner structure of the nose is made up of cartilage and bone. The bony part is the upper one-third of the nose with cartilage holding up the rest. In young children, the proportion made up of cartilage is greater. Both the cartilage and bone can become broken with sufficient trauma.

What are the symptoms?

Bruising and swelling of the skin overlying the nose is the most common symptom after a nasal injury. But tissues within the nose vital to its structure can have damage as well. The septum or tissue separating the nasal passages is made up of cartilage which can be broken when hit. In addition, the upper part of the nose is made of bone, which can also break. Most of the time, it is obvious that the nose is broken because it becomes deformed. However, the tissues in this area can swell very quickly after being hit. And sometimes this swelling hides the signs of the fracture.

What can/should be done at home

  • Stop the nosebleed.
  • Place a cool compress over the nose to decrease swelling. Be careful not induce cold injury to the skin of the nose by only keeping the cool compress on for only a few minutes at a time.
  • Call your pediatrician.
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