Understanding Nasal Anatomy: Inside View

A lot happens under the surface of the nose. The bone and cartilage under the skin give the nose most of its size and shape. Other structures inside and behind the nose help you breathe. Learning the anatomy of the nose can help you better understand how the nose works.

Front and side view of head showing nose cartilage.


Front view of face showing sinuses and septum.


Bone supports the upper third (bridge) of the nose. The upper cartilage supports the side of the nose. The lower cartilage adds support, width, and height. It helps shape the nostrils and the tip of the nose. Skin also helps shape the nose.


The nasal cavity is a hollow space behind the nose that air flows through. The septum is a thin "wall" made of cartilage and bone. It divides the inside of the nose into two chambers. The mucous membrane is thin tissue that lines the nose, sinuses, and throat. It warms and moistens the air you breathe in. It also makes the sticky mucus that helps clean the air of dust and other small particles. The turbinates on each side of the nose are curved, bony ridges lined with mucous membrane. They warm and moisten the air you breathe in. The sinuses are hollow, air-filled chambers in the bone around your nose. Mucus from the sinuses drains into the nasal cavity.