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Nose Laceration with Fracture: Suture or Tape

You have a cut and broken nose. The cut may bleed. The broken nose may cause pain, swelling, and nasal stuffiness. The nose may bleed or leak a clear fluid. The break may be a minor crack or a major break with the parts pushed out of place. By the next day, it is common to get bruising around the eyes from a broken nose. 

The cut may be closed so it heals faster. A deep cut often requires stitches. Minor cuts may be closed with surgical tape.

A nose with a minor break will likely heal with no additional treatment. If the break changes the shape of the nose, it will require straightening of the nasal bones (reduction). It is often best to wait until swelling has gone down to reduce a fracture. However, certain fractures may need to be straightened sooner. Your healthcare provider will give you more information.

Depending on the cause of the injury and your immunization status, a tetanus shot may be given.

Home care

  • Your healthcare provider may prescribe an antibiotic. This is to help prevent infection. Follow all instructions for taking this medicine. Take the medicine every day until it is gone or you are told to stop. You should not have any left over.

  • The healthcare provider may prescribe medicines for pain. Follow instructions for taking them.

  • Follow the health care provider’s instructions on how to care for the cut.

    • Wash your hands with soap and warm water before and after caring for the cut. This helps prevent infection.

    • If a bandage was applied and it becomes wet or dirty, replace it. Otherwise, leave it in place for the first 24 hours, then change it once a day or as directed.

    • If sutures were used, clean the wound daily: After removing the bandage, wash the area with soap and water. Use a wet cotton swab to loosen and remove any blood or crust that forms. After cleaning, pat the wound dry. Reapply a fresh bandage.

    • You may remove the bandage to shower as usual after the first 24 hours, but do not soak the area in water (no swimming) until the sutures are removed.

    • If surgical tape was used, keep the area clean and dry. If it becomes wet, blot it dry with a towel.

  • Most facial skin wounds heal without problems. However, an infection sometimes occurs despite proper treatment. Therefore, watch for the signs of infection listed below.

  • Apply an ice pack (ice cubes in a plastic bag, wrapped in a towel) to help relieve pain and swelling. Place it gently on the nose for 20 minutes every 1 to 2 hours the first day. Continue with ice packs 3 to 4 times a day for the next two days, then as needed.

  • Avoid alcohol and hot liquids for the next two days. Alcohol or hot liquids in your mouth can dilate blood vessels in your nose and cause bleeding.

  • Avoid blowing your nose for the first two days. Then, do so gently so you don't cause bleeding.

  • Do not play contact sports in the next six weeks unless you can protect your nose from re-injury. Special custom-fitted plastic face masks are available for this purpose.

Follow-up care

Follow up with your healthcare provider as advised. Be sure to return for suture removal as directed. Ask your provider how long sutures should remain in place. If surgical tape closures were used, you may remove them yourself when your provider recommends if they have not fallen off on their own.

If your nose appears crooked or if you cannot breathe through both nostrils after the swelling goes down, contact the referral doctor for an appointment to be seen within seven days of injury.

When to seek medical advice

Call your healthcare provider right away if any of these occur:

  • Sutures come apart or fall out, or if surgical tape closures fall off before 5 days

  • Bleeding from the nose that is not controlled by pinching the nostrils together for 10 minutes

  • Signs of infection, including increasing swelling, pain, or redness around the wound, or pus draining from the wound

  • Fever of 100.4°F (38ºC) or higher, or as directed by your healthcare provider

  • Inability to breathe from both sides of the nose after swelling goes down

  • Sinus pain

  • Repeated vomiting

  • Changes in vision

Call 911

Get emergency medical care right away for any of the following:

  • Trouble breathing or shortness of breath

  • Severe or worsening headache or dizziness

  • Unusual drowsiness

  • Confusion or change in behavior or speech

  • Convulsion (seizure)

 

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