Foreign object in the nose: First aid

If a foreign object becomes stuck or lodged in the nose:

  • Remove right away if the object is a magnet, battery or expands when wet. These objects can cause severe tissue damage in just hours. If it’s stuck and you can’t remove it easily, seek emergency care.
  • Don’t poke or prod the object. Fingers, cotton swabs and other tools might cause swelling and more damage. If the object is pushed deeper into the nose, it may be harder to remove. And it could cause choking.
  • Don’t inhale the object. You might choke. Instead, breathe through your mouth until the object is removed.
  • Don’t wash out the object. You might choke if the object is washed into the airway. Also, some objects may cause more damage when wet.
  • Blow out of your nose. The puff of air might free the object. This also is called positive pressure. Don’t blow hard or constantly. If the object is stuck in only one nostril, gently close the other nostril with your finger. Then, blow out gently but firmly through the affected nostril.
  • Try the “parent’s kiss.” If an object is stuck in your child’s nose, place your mouth over your child’s mouth to create a seal. Then, give a short, sharp puff of air into your child’s mouth. The air should push the object out of your child’s nose. If the object is stuck in one nostril, gently close the other nostril with your finger. Then, blow into your child’s mouth.
  • Use tweezers only if the object is easy to see and grasp. Don’t try this method if you can’t easily see or grasp the object. Try blowing air out of the nose first. This might free the object without tweezers.
  • Seek help right away if you see symptoms of infection. Or if you can’t remove the object on the first try.
  • Call for emergency medical assistance or go to your local emergency room if these methods fail. Delays and many failed tries to remove a stuck object can lead to infection and damage. Also see a member of your care team if you see symptoms of infection.

Jan. 21, 2023

  1. Isaacson GC, et al. Diagnosis and management of intranasal foreign bodies. Accessed Oct. 12, 2022.
  2. Knoop KJ, et al., eds. Nasal foreign body. In: The Atlas of Emergency Medicine. 5th ed. McGraw Hill; 2021. Accessed Oct. 17, 2022.
  3. Tintinalli JE, et al., eds. Nose and sinus disorders in infants and children. In: Tintinalli’s Emergency Medicine: A Comprehensive Study Guide. 9th ed. McGraw Hill; 2020. Accessed Oct. 12, 2022.
  4. Fowler GC, et al., eds. Removal of foreign bodies from the ear and nose. In: Pfenninger and Fowler’s Procedures for Primary Care. 4th ed. Elsevier; 2020. Accessed Oct. 17, 2022.
  5. Auerbach PS, et al., eds. Maxillofacial trauma. In: Field Guide to Wilderness Medicine. 5th ed. Elsevier; 2019. Accessed Oct. 12, 2022.


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