What Is The Best First Aid For A Broken Nose

Broken Nose First Aid

Table of Contents

#1 Broken Nose First Aid Treatment

Does A Broken Nose Need To Be Treated

A broken nose is one of the most instantly recognisable signs in the human body. You don’t need a medical degree or training to look at a fighter’s face and see they didn’t duck or weave out of the way fast enough to avoid having their nose broken, often more than once.

Most broken noses are the direct result of intentional violence in the form of domestic or physical abuse: sports injuries and training-related accidents in combat-related sports. The rest are accidental and result from random events like toddlers headbutting parents when they look down to pull on underwear or put on shoes etc.

Motor vehicle accidents, and the rare few who genuinely walk straight into a pole on the street because they are looking at their mobile phone and not paying any attention to where they are walking.  

When Should You Seek Medical Treatment For A Broken Nose

If the nose is not broken, or the cartilage has not been bent out of position, the person never loses consciousness, and the bleeding stops within twenty minutes. Ice packs, pain relief, and resting at home is the only treatment required in most cases unless complications arise as time passes.

Broken noses tend to cause both eyes to blacken, giving the ‘raccoon eyes’ effect. Depending on the severity of the blow, the eyes may discolour slightly with no swelling and look a little greenish, or both eyes might swell up and turn five different shades of black, maroon, purple, red, and violet, weld shut for a few days until the swelling subsides. The bruising fades out to a greenish tinge before disappearing entirely two-four weeks post the event. Immediate ice pack application with three hourly reapplications for no longer than twenty minutes at a time will assist with controlling the swelling and keeping it to a minimum.

Go to your nearest emergency department after receiving a blow to the nose if:

  • You cannot stop the bleeding after twenty minutes.
  • The nostril or nasal septum is crooked or out of place.
  • The person has an opaque liquid draining from one or both nostrils
  • A grape-like swelling appears inside the nose on the septum.
  • The person loses consciousness
  • The person stops breathing and requires CPR
  • Vision is impaired or blurred, or the person cannot see out of one or both eyes.

How Do You Diagnose A Broken Nose

Your GP or medical practitioner will press gently on the outside of your nose and surrounding areas and look inside your nasal passage to check for obstructions and further signs of a broken bone or damaged cartilage. When required, using a numbing medication will make the nose less painful during the exam.

X-rays and other imaging studies are usually unnecessary in most cases. However, a computerised tomography (CT) scan may be ordered if the severity of your injuries makes a thorough physical exam impossible or if your provider suspects you may have other facial fractures to the orbital bones or deep tissue injuries and sinus tube complications.

  • Immediately apply firm but gentle pinch pressure to the top of the nasal bone to assist with controlling the bleeding.
  • Never tilt the head backward. Keep upright so the fluid can drain naturally from the nose, not down the throat, potentially creating airway blockages or stomach disturbances that result in vomiting.
  • Apply an ice pack or ice-cold compress to control the swelling and numb some of the pain once the bleeding has stopped.
  • Have the person keep their head elevated, even when sleeping.
  • Avoid blowing the nose. Gently wipe or dab away any liquid from the nostrils as it emerges.
  • Give acetaminophen for pain. 
  • Do not give NSAIDs such as ibuprofen or aspirin as they can naturally thin the blood and prevent blood clotting to stop the bleeding.

First Aid Certification And Knowledge

Having First Aid certification and knowledge is a practice whereby you learn once and retain the information for your lifetime. You can add to your basic skill set with an HLTAID014 – Provide Advanced First Aid course that teaches you more in-depth skills. 

Knowing when something is a minor injury easily treated at home or in the workplace and what is a serious or even life-threatening situation is something everyone can and should know. If you have never taken a First Aid course, they have never been more affordable. There is no time like the present to jump online and check out the range of registered training organisations that specialise in providing state-of-the-art training and certification. Test your current knowledge by taking our quick Quiz.

Follow Up Your Nose Injury With A GP Appointment

  • If the swelling refuses to subside after 48 hours despite three hourly ice packs.
  • If the nose is crooked or bent to look at.
  • If the person cannot breathe in or out through their nose and is reduced to mouth breathing.
  • The pain refuses to subside and increases despite pain relief.
  • The nose keeps breaking out into a fresh round of bleeding for apparent reason.
  • For removal of packed gauze in the nostrils.

How Do GPs Stop Persistent Bleeding Noses

The medical practitioner may pack the nostrils with gauze to stop a persistently bleeding nose. This serves a two-fold purpose. It stops bleeding, and it holds the septum in place so the broken nose can heal, and the cartilage can be kept straight to correct any defects caused when it was originally moved out of position by the injury. Removal of the packed gauze nostrils requires a follow-up appointment with the GP as it is not a pleasant or pain-free undertaking. The dried blood and gauze stick to the nasal hairs, and they are ultimately pulled out in the extractions practice.

For a simple fracture, the medical practitioner may straighten the nose and apply a split or a bollard under the nostrils, where it is necessary to straighten out and reset the broken nose.

Surgical intervention and correction will be required for more complicated fractures to the nasal bone or where the cartilage cannot be easily manipulated back into place.

How Long Do Broken Noses Take To Heal

On average, it takes around three weeks for most people to heal from a broken nose. More severe facial trauma and nasal surgery or damage may take longer. The bruising typically fades out within two weeks in most cases, some faster, and some might take three weeks if deep tissue facial injuries were accompanying the broken nose.

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