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Cuts and Wounds of the Nose

Children may get minor cuts and wounds to the outside part of the nose while playing, climbing, or joining in sports activities. Most of these injuries can be handled at home with simple first aid treatment.

First aid for shallow cuts and wounds

To treat shallow cuts and wounds: 

  • Calm your child and let them know you can help.

  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and clean, running water. Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds.

  • Apply pressure with a clean cloth or bandage for several minutes to stop bleeding.

  • Wash the cut area well with soap and water. Don't scrub the wound. Remove any dirt particles from the area and let the water from the faucet run over it for several minutes. A dirty cut or scrape that is not fully cleaned can cause infection and scarring.

  • For a lot of bleeding, press on the wound firmly for 10 to 15 minutes with a clean cloth. Don't stop to look at the cut. If the cloth becomes soaked with blood, put a new cloth on top of the old cloth. Don't lift the first cloth. Facial wounds often bleed heavily.

  • Apply an antiseptic lotion or cream, once the bleeding has stopped.

  • Cover the area with an adhesive bandage or gauze pad. Change the dressing often.

  • Check the area each day and keep it clean and dry.

  • Don't blow on the wound. This can put germs into the wound.

  • Apply a cold or ice pack to the area of a direct blow or blunt trauma to the nose that causes bruising and swelling every 1 to 2 hours for 10 to 15 minutes for the first 24 hours. Wrap the cold or ice pack in a thin cloth or towel. Don't put ice directly against the skin. 

  • Have a healthcare provider check a wound, bruise, or a pocket of blood and fluid under the skin (hematoma) that also involves the eye or eyes right away.

  • Prevent sun exposure to the wound. Or keep it shaded with a cap, for at least 6 months. Use a sunscreen with sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15 or more on healed cuts and wounds. This is to help prevent scarring.

When should I call my child's healthcare provider?

Your child's healthcare provider will talk with you about treatment for cuts and wounds of the nose that need more than minor treatment at home. But call your child's provider for cuts and wounds of the nose that are:

  • Bleeding without stopping after 10 to 15 minutes of direct pressure, or that start to bleed again

  • Deep or longer than 1/2 inch

  • Caused by a puncture wound, or dirty or rusty object

  • Filled with debris, such as dirt, stones, or gravel

  • Ragged or have separated edges

  • Caused by an animal or human bite

  • Very painful or if you suspect a fracture, or head or bone injury

  • Showing signs of infection, such as increased warmth, redness, swelling, or drainage

  • Causing trouble breathing through one nostril. This may be a sign of a septal hematoma (bleeding within the tissue between the two nostrils). These usually need drainage to prevent permanent deformity of the nose. 

If your child is having a nosebleed, tilt your child's head forward slightly so that they don't swallow blood. Pinch the nostrils shut by pressing on the soft sides of the nose, not the hard bridge. Call the healthcare provider if the nosebleed does not stop after 5 to 10 minutes of pinching the nostrils shut.

Also call your child's healthcare provider if:

  • Your child has not had a tetanus vaccine within the past 5 years, or if you are unsure when your child's last tetanus shot was given

  • You are concerned about the wound or have any questions

Preventing nose injuries

To help prevent nose injuries in children:

  • Teach your child not to poke or place objects in the nose, such as cotton swabs or pencils.

  • Have your child wear protective face guards for sports activities that could cause injury.

  • Teach children to never put their faces close to an animal's face or mouth

Online Medical Reviewer: Eric Perez MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Ronald Karlin MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Tara Novick BSN MSN
Date Last Reviewed: 2/1/2023
© 2000-2024 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
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