Broken Nose in Children: Care Instructions

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Your Care Instructions

A broken nose is a break, or fracture, of the bone or cartilage. Most broken noses need only home care and a follow-up visit with a doctor. The swelling should go down in a few days. Bruises around your child's eyes and nose should go away in 2 to 3 weeks.

Healthy habits can help your child heal. Give your child a variety of healthy foods. And don't smoke around him or her.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

How can you care for your child at home?

  • If your child has a nasal splint or packing, leave it in place until a doctor removes it.
  • If the doctor prescribed antibiotics, give them to your child as directed. Do not stop giving them just because your child feels better. Your child needs to take the full course of antibiotics.
  • Give your child a decongestant as directed to help him or her breathe after the splint or packing is removed. The doctor may give your child a prescription or suggest over-the-counter medicine.
  • Give pain medicines exactly as directed.
    • If the doctor gave your child a prescription medicine for pain, give it as prescribed.
    • If your child is not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask the doctor if your child can take an over-the-counter medicine.
  • Put ice or a cold pack on your child's nose for 10 to 20 minutes at a time. Try to do this every 1 to 2 hours for the first 3 days (when your child is awake) or until the swelling goes down. Put a thin cloth between the ice pack and your child's skin.
  • Help your child sleep with his or her head slightly raised until the swelling goes down. Prop up your child's head on pillows.
  • Do not allow your child to play contact sports for 6 weeks.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your child has a fever or a severe headache.
  • Your child has a nosebleed that does not stop after you try pinching his or her nostrils together 3 times for 10 minutes each time (30 minutes total).
  • Blood runs down the back of your child's throat even after you try pinching the nose.
  • Your child has signs of infection, such as:
    • Increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness.
    • Red streaks leading from the wound.
    • Pus draining from the nose.
    • A fever.
  • Your child has nausea and vomiting, confusion, or trouble staying awake.

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:

  • Your child's nose still hurts after he or she takes pain medicine.
  • Your child cannot breathe through the nose after the swelling goes down.
  • Your child does not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

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