Face injuries account for about 1 percent to 11 percent of all sports accidents, and the nose seems to get injured the most. Repeated nose injuries pose a great concern, especially during adolescence when the nose is growing.

Scott Roth, former Utah Jazz basketball player, has broken his nose nine times - twice during the 1989-90 season with the Minnesota Timberwolves.Protective headgear has reduced but not eliminated nose injuries. It is usually worn only in high-risk sports, even though the potential for nose injuries exists for other athletic activities.

High-risk sports involve close, aggressive play with intentional or unintentional body contact or a high-speed ball, bat or puck.

Mandatory face protection in football has greatly decreased facial injuries. However, moderate- to high-risk non-contact sports, such as racket games, baseball and basketball, do not require face protection. For example, only the catcher in baseball wears a mask.

Athletes are not inclined to wear face protection or headgear in sports when it is not required. They complain of discomfort and even nasal obstruction and restricted vision.

Abrasions can result when the nose slides against some surface, such as Astroturf or cinder tracks.

Abrasions can be treated by cleansing several times daily with soap and water, and then applying a topical ointment, such as Bacitracin or Polysporin. Neosporin Ointment should be avoided because allergic reactions occur more frequently when it is used. Cleansing of these wounds should be vigorous. Tattoos can result when embedded matter remains in the skin.

Nosebleeds can usually be controlled by pinching the nose, with the head elevated but tilted slightly forward. If bleeding does not stop, a physician should be consulted. Several methods might be used to stop severe nosebleeds, including cauterizing and packing.

Nasal bones, because of their prominent position and thinness are the most frequently fractured face bones. Such fractures are less common in children because their nasal bones are less prominent and more flexible.

Nevertheless, nasal trauma in children may cause a significant deformity of the growth center. Nasal fractures often do not receive adequate attention or proper treatment.

The most common signs of nasal injury are bleeding, swelling, black eyes and tenderness.

Most sports-related nose injuries are minor abrasions and contusions. Nasal bone fractures can be associated with other fractures depending on the mechanism and force the injury.

- Alton Thygerson is a professor of health sciences at Brigham Young University.