Skip to main contentSkip to accessibility services
Read about

Nose Bruise Symptoms, Causes & Common Questions

Tooltip Icon.
Last updated April 13, 2022

Nose bruise quiz

Take a quiz to find out what's causing your nose bruise.

A nose bruise is usually caused by trauma from a direct injury to the face, a nose piercing, or rhinoplasty. Read now for more information on how to tell if your nose is broken and treatment options for a bruised nose.

5 most common causes

Acute URI
Swollen Nose
Illustration of a health care worker swabbing an individual.
Sinusitis
Illustration of a person thinking with cross bandaids.
Broken nose
Illustration of various health care options.
Non-specific nasal injury

Nose bruise quiz

Take a quiz to find out what's causing your nose bruise.

Take nose bruise quiz

Nose bruise symptoms

Even a minor injury to the nose can be quite painful. It can lead to considerable bruising of the nose area and one or both eyes. The pain, as uncomfortable or tear-inducing as it might be, does serve a purpose. Because this is an important sensory area of the body and involves the sense of smell (nose) and the sense of sight (eyes), the discomfort will force you to be extra protective of the injury while it heals. A bruise on the nose is also called a nasal contusion.

Common characteristics of nose bruise are

If you have a nose bruise, it can likely be described by the following.

  • Bleeding: It is very common for even a minor nose injury to cause bleeding from one or both nostrils. To help it remain sensitive to smells, the nose has an extensive blood supply that is close to the surface and therefore it bleeds readily.
  • Swelling: This can happen with or without a fracture.
  • Bruising: This occurs when blood vessels are damaged by the injury and are bleeding under the skin.
  • Pain: The face and its sensory organs are well-supplied with nerve endings and any injury can cause quite a bit of discomfort.

Duration of nose bruise symptoms

Your nose bruise and associated symptoms will likely resolve on their own with time.

  • Bleeding: This should not last for more than a few minutes once pressure and a cold pack are applied.
  • Swelling: Should go down in less than a week
  • Bruising: May take 10 to 14 days to clear

Who is most often affected by nose bruise symptoms

The following people are more likely to experience a nose bruise.

  • Athletes: Anyone playing sports is vulnerable to a blow to the face, either from another player or from a thrown ball or other moving object.
  • Elderly people
  • Anyone taking blood-thinners

When are nose bruise symptoms most likely to occur?

Nose bruises are more likely to arise due to the following.

  • Sports injuries: Bruising of the nose and eyes is often a sports injury.
  • If you are prone to falls
  • Fighting: If you get involved in a physical fight, a bruised or broken nose is a very likely outcome.
  • Rhinoplasty, or a "nose job": This will cause dark bruising to the eyes and nose.
  • Getting a nose piercing

Are nose bruise symptoms serious?

The severity of your nose bruise is ultimately dependent on the cause.

  • Not serious: Nose bruising in itself is not serious and will fade, but it can be a symptom of other conditions. Easy bruising that is not caused by an injury and spontaneously appears in many places on the body, not just the nose, can be a sign of a blood or clotting disorder.
  • Moderately serious: Bruising along with bleeding and a pus-like discharge from the nose can indicate that there may be an infection following the injury.
  • Serious Bruising with prolonged pain and swelling may be a sign that a fracture and/or a concussion also occurred at the time of the injury, and both of these conditions should be treated right away.

Nose bruise quiz

Take a quiz to find out what's causing your nose bruise.

Take nose bruise quiz

Nose bruise causes

Most common nose bruise causes

A nose bruise that occurs after some sort of trauma, such as something hitting you in the face with great force, is the most likely cause. Examples include:

  • Sports injuries
  • Falls/fights
  • Automobile accidents

Less common nose bruise causes

It is less common, although still likely, to experience a nose bruise after the following.

  • Rhinoplasty
  • Nose piercing

Rare and unusual nose bruise causes

A skull fracture can cause bruising around the eyes and nose even when there has not been an injury to the face.

3 nose bruise conditions

This list does not constitute medical advice and may not accurately represent what you have.

Viral sinus infection (sinusitis)

Acute viral sinusitis, also called viral rhinosinusitis or "sinus infection," occurs when viruses take hold and multiply in the sinus cavities of the face.

It is most often caused by the same viruses that cause the common cold and spreads the same way, through an infected person's coughing or sneezing.

Because children have small, underdeveloped sinuses, this illness is far more common in adults.

Symptoms include clear nasal discharge (not greenish or yellowish,) fever, and pain if facial sinuses are pressed.

If there is rash, severe fatigue, or neurologic symptoms (seizures, loss of sensation, weakness, or partial paralysis,) see a medical provider to rule out more serious conditions.

Diagnosis can usually be made through history and examination alone.

Antibiotics only work against bacteria and cannot help against a viral illness.

Therefore, treatment consists of rest, fluids, and fever/pain reducers such as ibuprofen. (Do not give aspirin to children.) Symptoms of viral sinusitis last for about seven to ten days.

As with the common cold, the best prevention is frequent and thorough handwashing.

Non-specific nasal injury

Nasal injuries are very common due to the position of the nose on the face. While fragile, many injuries to the nose are not actually fractures.

You can go see your doctor tomorrow, who can rule out a fracture. Imaging and physical exam can find fractures of the nose. Treatment for a non-fracture is just ice and simple pain management.

Rarity: Uncommon

Top Symptoms: constant nose pain, nose pain caused by trauma, swollen nose, nose bruise, bloody nose after being hit in the nose

Symptoms that always occur with non-specific nasal injury: nose pain caused by trauma, constant nose pain

Urgency: Primary care doctor

Iatrogenic nose condition

Surgery of the nose or nose piercing can result in side effects ranging from infection, pain and swelling to numbness and decreased sense of smell.

You should contact a healthcare provider to decide whether your symptoms need further examination and treatment. If you have signs of an infection, it is likely a course of antibiotics will be prescribed.

Common cold

The common cold is a contagious viral infection that can cause cough, congestion, runny nose, and sore throat. Most adults catch two to three colds per year, and kids can get more than eight colds each year.

Rest and drink plenty of fluids. Colds are contagious and can easily spread to other people, so if possible, avoid close contact with others, such as hugging, kissing, or shaking hands. Colds typically resolve within 7 to 10 days.

Broken nose

Nasal fractures are common occurrences. The force needed to break the nasal bones is less than any of the other bones of the face because of their thinness and position. For kids, treatment and diagnosis is different because of the bones may not be fully formed.

You should go to urgent care or the emergency room immediately by car, where diagnosis can be confirmed by taking pictures. Treatment involves stabilizing the nose and referring to an Ear/Nose/Throat surgeon or a plastic surgeon for further management.

Rarity: Uncommon

Top Symptoms: mouth breathing, constant nose pain, swollen nose, nose pain caused by trauma, nose bruise

Symptoms that always occur with broken nose: nose pain caused by trauma, swollen nose, constant nose pain

Urgency: Hospital emergency room

Nose bruise quiz

Take a quiz to find out what's causing your nose bruise.

Take nose bruise quiz

Nose bruise treatments and relief

At-home treatment

You can try the following treatments at home to address your nose bruise.

  • Ice packs, or cold packs: These can help reduce swelling, pain, and bruising.
  • Take over-the-counter pain relievers: Such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or other NSAIDs like naproxen (Aleve).
  • Rest the nose: Try not to blow the nose for at least a couple of days after the injury so that the injured tissues can heal.
  • Avoid drinking hot liquids or alcohol: At least for a couple of days. These can dilate the blood vessels within the nose and promote bleeding of the injured tissue.
  • Do not lift any heavy weights: Especially if you have severe bruising around the eyes and/or nose, as it may cause further pooling of blood in the injured areas.
  • Sleep propped up on pillows, or with the head of the bed raised

When to see a doctor

You should see your doctor if your nose bruise persists, worsens, or you experience any of the following.

  • You have symptoms of concussion: Nausea and vomiting, headache, dizziness, confusion, and feeling faint.
  • Ongoing pain, bruising, swelling, or deformity that does not heal within a few days
  • Fever along with the injury
  • A yellowish, pus-like discharge from the injured nose

When it is an emergency

Seek immediate nose bruise treatment in the emergency room or call 911 if:

  • You have difficulty breathing through the injured nose
  • You suspect that the nose may be fractured
  • You have bruising around the eyes and nose following a head injury but were not struck in the face: This can be a sign of a skull fracture.
  • You have a nosebleed that does not stop: Even after applying gentle pressure and an ice pack or cold pack
  • You were unconscious following the injury
  • The vision is affected, and you are either seeing double or your vision is blurred
  • You suspect there is a foreign body within the nose following an accident: Children will sometimes insert an object into their noses and can't get it out again.
  • You also have an open wound on the nose
  • The nose looks crooked or deformed: Not just swollen

Questions your doctor may ask about nose bruise

  • Do you have any body piercings?
  • Have you ever had any surgeries?
  • Were you struck in the nose?
  • Do you have a rash?

Self-diagnose with our free Buoy Assistant if you answer yes on any of these questions.

Share your story
Dr. Rothschild has been a faculty member at Brigham and Women’s Hospital where he is an Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. He currently practices as a hospitalist at Newton Wellesley Hospital. In 1978, Dr. Rothschild received his MD at the Medical College of Wisconsin and trained in internal medicine followed by a fellowship in critical care medicine. He also received an MP...
Read full bio

Was this article helpful?

4 people found this helpful
Tooltip Icon.
Read this next
Slide 1 of 3

References

  1. Marston AP, O'brien EK, Hamilton GS. Nasal Injuries in Sports. Clin Sports Med. 2017;36(2):337-353. PubMed Link
  2. Easy Bruising and Bleeding. Am Fam Physician. 2016 Feb 15;93(4):online. AAFP Link
  3. Head Injury. Johns Hopkins Medicine Health Library. Johns Hopkins Medicine Link
  4. Nose Fracture. U.S. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus. Updated Jan. 7, 2019. MedlinePlus Link