What Are the Signs of a Broken Nose in a Child?

If your child gets a crack or break in the nose, it can be called a nasal fracture. It can happen by getting hit with a ball, falling down, running into something or other mishaps. There are several events that can make parents worry if their child’s nose is broken. A suspected nasal fracture should always be checked out by the care provider right away.

What Are the Signs of a Broken Nose in a Child?

The symptoms can vary, depending on how bad the break is. There are some general symptoms you can see through and they include:

  • Nosebleed
  • Pain
  • Facial swelling
  • Blocked nasal passages
  • Breathing trouble
  • Bruised or black eyes
  • Tender nose when touched
  • Crooked nose
  • Nose making a crunching or grating noise when touched

If the following symptoms are also noticed, you should take your child to the ER right away as it could mean there’s a spinal injury or concussion:

  • Loss of consciousness
  • Nosebleed that won’t stop
  • Clear nasal drainage
  • Vision trouble
  • Severe headaches
  • Neck pain
  • Vomiting
  • Weak or numb arms

Diagnosing Nasal Fracture in Children

After knowing the signs of a broken nose in a child, learn how a nasal fracture is diagnosed.

  • Your pediatrician will ask where, how and when the injury happened.
  • A nasal exam will be performed to assess the injury. Your pediatrician may give pain medicine before examining the nasal exterior and interior. He/she will look for blood clots or hematomas.
  • The doctor may require a CT or X-ray to check the fracture further. Contrast liquid may be administered before the exam. If there are any allergies, make sure your healthcare provider knows about them.

How Is a Broken Nose Treated?

Your child may be given medicine to help with the pain or to prevent infection. You should make note of asking your doctor about safely administering the pain medication. Medicine to decrease the swelling and make breathing easier may also be given. Bleeding will be stopped and if there is a collection of blood, or hematoma in the nose, it will be removed. The nose may get packed with gauze to prevent more bleeding.

Your doctor may also do a closed reduction to get your child’s nasal bones to return to the correct placement. A local or general anesthetic will be administered for this. It can be done right away, or a few days later when the swelling has gone down. Packing or a splint can be used to help keep your child’s nose in place for a week or longer after the reduction has been performed. Ask your doctor about tips for caring for the packing or splint. In severe cases, surgery may be recommended.

How to Care for a Broken Nose in a Child at Home

  • To relieve the signs of a broken nose in a child, use crushed ice or an ice pack and apply for about 15 minutes every hour, or as your doctor directs. Use a towel to wrap it in for greater comfort.
  • Keep the child’s head elevated when lying down to lower risk of swelling.
  • You should keep your child’s nose protected to prevent another fracture. Talk to the doctor about protecting the head and when your child can return to sports. Many will advise children to wait at least two weeks to play any sports and six weeks or longer for contact sports such as wrestling and football.

When Do You Call the Doctor?

Call the doctor:

  • If there is a fever present.
  • If your child has nosebleeds.
  • If your child has a lose drain, splint or packing.
  • If your child has a headache that isn’t getting better with medication.
  • If you are concerned about your child’s care.

When to Seek Immediate Care

Seek immediate care:

  • If your child feels the nose is completely blocked or there is a difficult time breathing.
  • If your child is in severe pain, even after medication.
  • If your child’s nose is leaking clear fluid.
  • If your child is having eye trouble such as double vision.

What Is Recovery Like?

When treated and evaluated right away, your child’s broken nose will heal and function normally. Even if your child has a deviated septum, with repair, the function can return to normal. If a broken nose goes two weeks or more without repair, reconstructive surgery may be necessary to regain normal function. When left untreated, permanent damage can occur; this can lead to trouble breathing, sinus infections or a misshapen nose.

How to Prevent a Broken Nose in Your Child

After knowing the signs of a broken nose in a child, you may want to know how to prevent a broken nose in the first place. The following precautions should be taken:

  • Keep small objects out of reach and out of sight.
  • Teach your child basic safety rules while playing with pets in and outside of the house.
  • Use age-appropriate safety gear for your child when driving.
  • Make sure your child understands basic traffic safety laws, especially while riding the bicycles.
  • Check your home for hazards that may lead to falling such as poor carpeting, toys left out or poorly lit stairs.
  • Teach your child the importance of not solving the problems with hands. Instead of fighting, try to communicate.