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As plain as the nose on your face
Prairie Doc Perspectives
Andrew Ellsworth MD

My friend broke my nose at an after-prom party in high school. It was nothing deliberate, such as fighting over a girl. Rather, we bumped heads while wearing those big round air-filled sumo wrestler suits. Besides hurting a lot, I remember thinking, “I’ve never been so aware of my nose before.” I was overly cautious of anything that could come close to my nose. 

I think we sometimes take our noses for granted. Despite being right between our eyes, it’s not our noses, but our heart, lungs, and other organs that get most of our interest. We brush our teeth daily. We get our eyes checked regularly. We adorn our ears and fingers with rings all the time, but the nose is generally ignored. 

Sure, there are some famous noses and some people are more aware of the size of their nose than others, but mostly, outside an occasional bloody or runny nose, we don’t pay it much attention.  

During annual preventive physical exams, I usually look around for any suspicious spots that could be cancer. One of the most common areas is on the nose. The nose sticks out and is susceptible to getting more sunlight and thus can be prone to getting skin cancer. If you notice a new bump on your nose that won’t go away after a month or two, you should get it checked out. Better yet, be proactive and put sunscreen on your nose as well as your ears, cheeks, neck, arms, and legs and anywhere else that will be in the sun. It’s best to keep your nose out of it (the sun, that is) and wear a wide-brimmed hat.

Of course, we cannot talk about our noses without expressing appreciation for our precious sense of smell. Smell helps our brains taste all those amazing flavors and when food goes bad, we depend on our nose to warn us before we take a bite of something that we want to thumb our nose at.  

I can’t imagine going through summer without the smell of flowers, apple pie, a campfire and fireworks. With Covid-19 around, the smell of peanuts at a crowded baseball game or cotton candy at the fair will have to wait for now, I guess. 

If you lose your sense of smell talk to your doctor. It could be from allergies or a cold, but it could also be something more serious like the coronavirus. 

As much as we’d like to see everyone’s nose again, the right thing to do is as plain as the nose on our face. Let’s not get our noses out of joint. Let’s keep our noses to the grindstone, continue to be mindful of social distancing and wear masks that cover our mouths and our noses! 

Andrew Ellsworth, MD, is part of The Prairie Doc team of physicians and currently practices family medicine in Brookings, S.D. For free and easy access to the entire Prairie Doc library, visit and follow Prairie Doc on Facebook.