The bridge of the nose is the hard area before the soft cartilage of the nostrils. This part of the body is vulnerable to trauma and also infection due to its proximity to the sinuses.
A person may experience bridge of nose pain as a result of one of several causes. Home remedies can help relieve the pain in most cases.
In this article, learn about the possible causes of pain in the bridge of the nose as well as treatment options and when to see a doctor.
Possible causes of pain in the bridge of the nose include:
Trauma is one of the most common causes of bridge of nose pain. Common examples of nasal trauma include injuries sustained while playing sports or due to a fight, fall, or car accident.
Nasal trauma can cause swelling that makes it difficult for a person to tell whether their nose is broken or just bruised.
Doctors usually advise a person to wait until the swelling decreases before evaluating whether they have broken their nose.
Symptoms that may indicate that a person has broken their nose include:
- a visibly crooked or bent nose
- continued difficulty breathing
- bloody drainage from the nose
Urgent medical attention is necessary if the drainage is thin and yellow to clear, as this could be cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) draining from the brain.
CSF drainage can cause additional symptoms, such as a headache, nausea and vomiting, neck pain or stiffness, and a change in hearing. It also increases a person's risk for infection and signals a need for medical intervention.
One of the symptoms is facial pain, which can include pain that extends to the bridge of the nose.
Pain in this location is especially likely when a person has ethmoid sinusitis, an infection of the sinus passages near the bridge of the nose.
Other symptoms that can occur with sinusitis include:
- a fever
- an impaired sense of smell
- a runny nose
A person may sometimes have chronic sinusitis, in which the infection lasts longer than 8 weeks.
Nasal furunculosis is an infection of the area where nasal hair grows. The infection can occur after an upper respiratory infection or due to chronic nose picking.
The infection can cause a painful boil or infected pimple-like area inside the nose, which can lead to pain in the bridge of the nose.
Other symptoms may include:
- nasal crusting
- smelly nasal discharge
- swelling, usually on one side of the face
Without treatment, nasal furunculosis can lead to a more serious infection, such as cellulitis.
Sarcoidosis is a rare medical condition that causes inflammation of the body's tissues and the formation of lumps, or granulomas. It can affect the nose.
In addition to bridge of nose pain, sarcoidosis can cause other nasal symptoms, including:
- loss of sense of smell
In rare instances, the inflammation can become so severe that it causes a saddle nose deformity, which is a dent or collapse of the nasal bridge.
Septal nose perforation
A septal nose perforation is a hole that appears in the nasal septum, the area of cartilage that separates the nostrils.
A perforation does not always produce symptoms, but it can sometimes cause pain in the bridge of the nose.
Other symptoms of a septal nose perforation include:
- bloody discharge from the nose
- nasal crusting
- nasal pressure
- difficulty breathing through the nose
- a whistling sound when breathing through the nose
Septal nose perforation can be a rare side effect of rhinoplasty. A foreign body becoming stuck in the nose, nasal cancer, or a history of cocaine use can also cause a septal nose perforation.
The type of treatment will depend on the severity of the person's symptoms. Some people may require surgical repair.
In rare cases, pain in the bridge of the nose can indicate cancer in the nasal cavity and paranasal sinus. The paranasal sinus is the air-filled cavity at the back of the nose. A cancerous growth usually occurs just on one side.
Additional symptoms of these types of cancer include:
- a bulging eye
- facial numbness
- loss of sense of smell
- nasal congestion
- pus that drains from the nose
- vision changes
- watering eyes
These symptoms can also indicate many other medical conditions, including the common cold or flu, so it is best to speak to a doctor for a proper diagnosis.
To diagnose what is causing pain in the bridge of the nose, a doctor will take a person's medical history and ask about their symptoms.
In some instances, they may recommend imaging studies, such as CT or MRI scans, to determine whether there are growths or abnormalities inside the nose.
In the rare cases in which a doctor suspects nasal cancer, they may recommend taking a biopsy of the tissue to send to a lab for testing.
A person can often treat pain in the bridge of the nose at home. Home remedies include:
- applying cloth-covered ice packs to the nose for 10–15 minutes at a time
- keeping the head elevated to allow the nose to drain and reduce swelling
- refraining from strenuous physical activity
- taking over-the-counter pain relievers, such as acetaminophen
- avoiding aspirin, which could worsen any bleeding
- wearing a nose guard to protect the nose while it heals
- placing soft gauze rolls in the nostrils to prevent further bleeding, but only after speaking to a nurse or doctor
If the pain gets worse or does not improve with time and home remedies, a person should see a doctor.
Medical treatments for bridge of nose pain depend on the underlying cause.
If a person has sinusitis or a nasal infection, a doctor may prescribe antibiotics. Severe infections may require topical or intravenous antibiotics.
If a person has a broken nose, a doctor may need to set the nose to correct the break. They will do this when a person is either sedated or under general anesthetic.
A doctor may prescribe steroids to treat conditions such as sarcoidosis. These medications can reduce inflammation, but they are not usually safe to use for prolonged periods.
Nasal traumas may require surgical correction. The surgical approach will vary depending on the nature of the injury.
Bridge of nose pain has multiple potential causes. If home remedies do not resolve the pain, a person should visit the doctor to get a diagnosis.
They may need antibiotics or steroids to resolve an underlying illness and minimize pain.