This article was co-authored by Alan O. Khadavi, MD, FACAAI. Dr. Alan O. Khadavi is a Board Certified Allergist and a Pediatric Allergy Specialist based in Los Angeles, California. He holds a BS in biochemistry from the State University of New York (SUNY) at Stony Brook and an MD from the State University of New York Health Science Center at Brooklyn. Dr. Khadavi completed his pediatric residency at Schneider Children’s Hospital in New York, and then went on to complete his allergy and immunology fellowship and pediatric residency at Long Island College Hospital. He is board certified in adult and pediatric allergy/immunology. Dr. Khadavi is a Diplomate of the American Board of Allergy and Immunology, a Fellow of the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (ACAAI), and a member of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI). Dr. Khadavi’s honors include Castle Connolly’s list of Top Doctors 2013-2020, and Patient Choice Awards “Most Compassionate Doctor” in 2013 & 2014.
There are 12 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.
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Frequent blowing from allergies, colds, or cold, dry weather can painfully irritate your nose. The delicate tissues around and in the nose become dry and chapped from the constant “micro-trauma” of blowing and wiping. Allergies can be especially problematic because they last longer than the one to two weeks of a cold or flu. Whatever the cause, there are steps you can take to soothe your tender nose.
We’ve all experienced the painful, raw, red nose that accompanies the stuffiness cold weather usually brings on. While it’s common, it’s also annoying and painful—not to mention the fact that although it might be in season for Rudolph, not all of us can pull it off quite as well.
How does your nose get raw in the first place?
Almost everyone has experienced a cold and therefore, the seemingly endless running of your nose. While that’s inevitable, developing a raw nose isn’t. So how do some people get them?
Well, chronic rubbing certainly can result in chapping of the nose. When you’re consistently (sometimes a hundred time a day!) blowing your nose and rubbing off the excess, it can over exfoliate the area, resulting in raw skin cells.
Also, wetness from a runny nose can result in a chapped, red, scaly appearance.
So, first things first: We’ve got to figure out a way to fix the root of the problem and decrease the amount of chapping by decreasing the rubbing or decreasing the runniness of your nose.
How to Prevent and Heal a Raw Nose
The key is to use something mild, but effective.
Something like a mild hydrocortisone can help prevent this, which you can get over the counter. A 1% hydrocortisone used for a week or two can really help with some of the inflammation secondary to chronic running and wetness of the nose.
If the hydrocortisone 1% that you use for a week or two does not work, then go see your dermatologist for something a bit stronger.
Another method is to be aware of what type of tissues you’re using to blow your nose. Toilet paper and paper towel are often convenient to use, but can make the issue much worse due to the rougher texture.
Opting for tissues that are soft and contain moisturizing ingredients can help prevent extreme cases of a red and raw nose.
Best Lotion for Raw Noses
If you’re struggling with a painful red nose, using a moisturizer with emollients and ceramides will be your best bet.
Previously, the use of petroleum-based moisturizers were a go-to for such a skin irritation but since we’ve learned these are often goopy and pore-clogging, alternatives with ceramides are a better option to help restore the skin.
As with almost anything in life, there are pros and cons to blowing your nose (stick with me here). On one hand, it can really help with relieving stuffiness and congestion—plus it prevents mucus from building up in your nostrils. Lovely mental image, right? Then again, you have to consider what repeatedly blowing your nose can do to your skin. Because it's not great.
Take it from Marisa Garshick, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City: "Overly blowing your nose can result in irritant contact dermatitis due to vigorous rubbing, contact with mucus, and friction from tissue use, which disrupts the skin barrier." This erosion of the skin barrier can leave the entire nose area red, flaky, and sensitive to the touch.
Of course, with it being flu season and significantly colder outside in most places, runny noses are incredibly common, so it can be hard for people to avoid using tissues for sanitary reasons. The good news is there are ways to help prevent your nose from getting overly raw—as well as easy treatments that can help soothe redness and soreness in a matter of days (sometimes less than that). Keep reading for professional insight on how to combat and calm an irritated nose.
1 Apply ointments and balms
Because blowing your nose can have a stripping effect on the skin—meaning it removes all the essential oils that keep it hydrated—the main thing you want to do is strengthen and support your moisture barrier. Dr. Garshick recommends using products rich in water-locking ingredients, like hyaluronic acid, glycerin, and panthenol, as well as occlusive agents like Vaseline ($12 for 3; amazon.com) or Aquaphor ($14; amazon.com) to seal in hydration. “Ointments that use petrolatum to provide a protective barrier not only lock in moisture but also protect the skin from external irritants,” she explains, adding that in addition to Aquaphor and Vaseline, she’s a big fan of CeraVe’s Healing Ointment ($11; ulta.com). Additionally, she recommends avoiding any harsh soap-based cleansers and chemical exfoliants, and instead sticking to gentle formulas that aid in nourishing and repairing the skin.
When it comes to treating a nose that’s already in a worse-for-wear state, pros say it’s best to streamline your routine and load up on moisturizing products that help speed up healing. Apply some aloe vera gel to soothe irritated skin after each nose blow. Dr. Garshick says it may also be helpful to use a topical steroid cream, like over-the-counter cortisone, to reduce inflammation. “Once the skin barrier is disrupted, there is a risk of infection, so it’s important to monitor for signs including but not limited to crusting, pus, and tenderness,” she adds.
Your nose needs proper care to heal quickly. And slathering layer upon layer of lotion, which is bound to wipe off, isn’t the way to go. According to New York City-based dermatologist Dendy Engelman, MD, several much more effective methods will help to banish that Rudolph-the-Red-Nose-Reindeer look in no time.
3 ways to treat your chapped nose after a cold
1. Use ointments or balms.
Ointments and balms create a protective barrier with some serious staying power. “They’re the most hydrating products you can use to quickly rehab dry or chapped skin. Apply them on any red areas, and don’t forget to reapply throughout the day,” says Dr. Engelman. “When buying a product, look for calming ingredients like oatmeal, shea butter, and aloe. I also recommend Aquaphor.”
2. Get a humidifier.
Sometimes the best way to heal skin doesn’t involve directly applying a product to the affected area at all, but rather improving the surrounding conditions. “When it’s cold outside, there’s less moisture in the air. This makes it easier for the nose to get dryer quicker,” Dr. Engelman says. “I like using humidifiers to add moisture back into the air. This will support the skin’s natural moisture barrier instead of stripping it.”
3. Rethink your tissues.
When you’re constantly blowing your nose, you don’t want to skimp and buy scratchy tissues (or worse yet, use toilet paper). Instead, make sure you’re using a gentle product that causes minimal damage. “The less irritation to the area, the better,” says Dr. Engelman. “Try to gently blow your nose on a soft tissue. There are great options available that add lotion or other soothing benefits.”
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It’s that time of year where everyone in the office is calling in sick. Those nasty sniffles are just part of the hassle, but you could be making it a lot worse for yourself if you’re not blowing your nose properly.
Following is a transcript of the video.
Blowing your nose could make it more stuffed.
Feeling stuffy? Blowing your nose could make you feel worse. That’s because you’re building up the pressure in your nostrils. This pressure can cause mucus to shoot up into your sinuses, instead of out of your nose.
When you’re sick, that mucus may contain viruses or bacteria.
If the bacteria or virus gets into your sinuses, it could trigger an infection. If that infection spreads, it could make you even sicker.
The stuffy feeling is from inflamed blood vessels.
Blowing will just irritate those vessels even more, which could increase the swelling. So, what’s the right way to blow your nose?
Close one nostril at a time and lightly blow through each one. Anti-inflammitories may help reduce the swelling and open a passage for the mucus to flow out.
Lubricating spray also helps loosen dry, crusted mucus clearing the way for a gentle nose blowing. So, pull up the covers, grab a tissue and gently blow your way to good health.
There’s nothing more relieving than the feeling of a blocked nose finally clearing. It’s just a shame that it’s often the last thing to happen when recovering from a cold or flu. To help things move along next time your nose isn’t breathing easy, try these ideas for how to soothe a blocked nose. What causes a sore nose? Whether your sore nose causes are a winter cold, a sinus infection or a hay fever allergy, these tips can help.
Keep Cushelle Pocket Pack Tissues at hand when you want to know how to stop a sore nose – they’re designed to protect skin from irritation when your nose is blocked, but they’re strong enough to withstand a few decent nose-blows. In fact, they’re so strong they’ll even survive a trip through the wash if they’re accidentally left in a pocket!
Cushelle is here for your blocked nose no matter what, but we’re not medical experts. Always seek professional advice if you are worried about a persistent stuffy nose.
1. Hit the shower
As easy as it sounds, having a hot shower or a long bath when you feel congested can help to ease decongestion. 1 The heat helps the network of blood vessels in your nose to open and close more easily, which helps your sinuses to drain.
2. Try a warm compress to unblock a stuffy nose
Sticking with the heat idea, a warm compress can also provide more localised assistance. 2 This is because the warmth helps to open your nasal passages. It can also help relieve inflammation inside your nostrils, and ease the discomfort you might be feeling across your sinuses and forehead, too.
All you need to do to make a DIY one for yourself is to soak a towel in warm water, wring out the excess water, fold it up neatly, and gently place it across your nose and forehead. You might find it easiest to lean back slightly while you do this, to stop the towel from slipping. It’s a good idea to avoid lying completely flat, as when you’re more upright gravity will help to get your stuffy nose free of gunk.
3. Good old ginger
Our grandparents often tell us about the good old days and one of their best stuffy nose remedies is ginger root. This warm, spicy ingredient can act as a comforting natural remedy for all kinds of cold symptoms. Add 4-5 slices of fresh ginger to a cup of boiling water and leave it to infuse for 5-10 minutes. Drink the water in sips once it has cooled, or soak a cotton cloth in the ginger water and place it on your face for 10 minutes. The heat, together with the anti-inflammatory properties of ginger, 8 helps mucus to drain and unblock a stuffy nose. 9 It also works wonders on sore throats when drunk.
4. Hydrate to unblock your stuffy nose
How does drinking water affect your nose? It’s all about the mechanics. Water, hot drinks and juices will help thin mucus, so it doesn’t clog up thickly and it’s easier to get rid of when you blow your nose. This also helps to ease pressure in your sinuses. That can result in inflammation subsiding, which will help ease some of the discomfort you might be feeling. 4
Warm drinks can be especially effective home remedies for a stuffy nose, as you’ll be inhaling some water vapour as you sip. 7 Pop the kettle on – how about a soothing cup of peppermint tea?
If your red, blocked up nose cause is related to sinus congestion too, then you might want to turn to the natural decongestant power of peppermint. Menthol is the main active ingredient, which may help to open your airways and clear out mucus by interacting with the mucus receptors in the nose. 5
You can harness the power by drinking peppermint tea, with the steam from a hot cuppa and the hydration from the water content also helping to ease your blocked nose. 7 You might also choose to add essential oil of peppermint to a steam treatment.
6. Steam and humidifier
Whether you choose hot water steam from a pot of boiled water and essential oils, or you have a specially designed humidifier at home, breathing steam works like magic for decongesting your nasal passages and soothing your stuffy nose.
With a humidifier the water in the machine converts to moisture that fills the air and raises the humidity levels. This can help unblock a stuffy nose by thinning mucus in the sinuses and soothing the tissues and blood vessels that are inflamed and irritated. The great thing is that all you need to do is simply breathe in where the humidifier is operating. 3
If you don’t have a humidifier you can still benefit from the decongesting properties of steam. For a DIY version, all you need to do is boil a kettle, and carefully pour the water into a bowl. Then place a towel over your head, and lean over the bowl, with the towel covering it. This helps to keep the steam close to your nasal passages while you breathe in slowly through your nose. Be careful not to get too close or scald yourself. You could add a couple of drops of peppermint essential oil to the water and combine ethanol with steam power.
Whichever method you use, inhale steam a couple of times each day until your nose feels clear.
You might see it simply as the perfect addition to a nice tomato sauce, but when it comes to how to soothe a stuffy nose, garlic is among the best remedies. Garlic is said to help thin mucus that blocks the nasal passages, and its naturally antibacterial properties are said to reduce inflammation that can contribute to clogged-up airways. Add two mashed garlic cloves to food or boiling water each day, or if you’re daring enough to eat it raw, mash the garlic up and swallow it with honey. 6
Next time you have a blocked up nose and want to know how to soothe a sore nose, try one (or several) of these natural home remedies. Another top tip for how to stop a sore nose is to keep a pack of soft Cushelle facial tissues handy so you can blow your nose hygienically.
1 Topical nasal decongestions, Nose, National Institute for Health and Care Excellence
2 Sinusitis, NHS Inform; 2020
4 How to Clear a Stuffy Nose, (Medically reviewed), Healthline; 2019
5 Top 7 essential oils for sinus congestion, (Medically reviewed), Medical News Today; 2019
6 7 Natural Remedies for Congestion Relief, (Medically reviewed), Everyday Health; 2017
7 Saketkhoo K, Januszkiewicz A, Sackner MA. Effects of drinking hot water, cold water, and chicken soup on nasal mucus velocity and nasal airflow resistance. Chest. 1978 Oct;74(4):408-10. doi: 10.1378/chest.74.4.408. PMID: 359266.
8 Mashhadi NS, Ghiasvand R, Askari G, Hariri M, Darvishi L, Mofid MR. Anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory effects of ginger in health and physical activity: review of current evidence. Int J Prev Med. 2013;4(Suppl 1):S36-S42.
One nostril or two? Hard blow or gentle? Some ways are more effective and less risky than others. from www.shutterstock.com
If you have a blocked or runny nose, chances are you’ll reach for a tissue or hanky to clear the mucus by having a good blow.
But is there a right way to blow your nose? Could some ways make your cold worse? And could you actually do some damage?
The three most common reasons for extra mucus or snot are the common cold, sinusitis (infection or inflammation of the sinuses, the air-filled spaces inside the face bones) and hay fever. Each of these conditions cause the lining in the nose to swell up, and to produce extra mucus to flush away infection, irritants or allergens.
Both the swelling and extra mucus lead to nasal congestion. This is when the narrowed passages increase the effort of breathing through the nose. Clearing the mucus by blowing the nose should reduce this congestion somewhat.
At the beginning of colds and for most of the time with hay fever, there’s lots of runny mucus. Blowing the nose regularly prevents mucus building up and running down from the nostrils towards the upper lip, the all-too-familiar runny nose.
Later in colds and with sinusitis, nasal mucus can become thick, sticky and harder to clear.
Think of “snotty nosed kids”, in particular infants or toddlers who haven’t yet learnt to coordinate the mechanics of blowing their noses. They tend to repeatedly sniff thick mucus back into their nose or allow it to dribble down their upper lip.
Keeping this mucus (rather than blowing it out) is thought to contribute to a cycle of irritation that causes the snotty nose to persist for weeks or longer.
This may be due to the retained mucus acting as a good “home” for bacteria to grow in, as well as fatigue of the “hairs” (cilia) that cleanse the nose by moving along mucus and carrying with it irritants, inhaled debris and bacteria.
Thick retained mucus is also more likely to be transported to the throat rather than gravity working it from the nostrils, leading to throat irritation and possibly a cough. This is the mechanism behind the most common cause of prolonged cough after a viral infection or hay fever, known as the post-nasal drip cough.
So it makes sense to encourage people to blow their nose to remove unwanted mucus.
Rare risks if you blow too hard and too often
Although extremely rare, there are a few examples in the medical literature of people blowing so hard they generated pressures high enough to cause serious damage. In most of these cases people had underlying chronic sinusitis or an existing weakness in the structure they damaged after blowing too hard.
These injuries included fractures of the base of the eye socket; air forced into the tissue between the two lobes of the lung; severe headache from air forced inside the skull; and rupture of the oesophagus, the tube that sends food to the stomach.
One study looked at the pressures generated when people with and without a range of nasal complaints blew their noses.
People with chronic sinusitis generated pressures significantly higher than people without a nasal complaint, up to 9,130 Pascals of pressure. They also found blowing by blocking both nostrils generated much higher pressures than blowing with one nostril open.
One study showed how blowing your nose hard could send mucus from the nose into the sinuses, potentially infecting them too. www.shutterstock.com
Another study comparing pressures from nose blowing, sneezing and coughing found pressures generated during blowing were about ten times higher than during the other two activities.
More worrying was their second finding – viscous fluid from the nose had found its way into the sinus cavities after vigorous nose blowing. The researchers said this could be a mechanism for sinus infection complicating some colds, with the introduction of nasal bacteria to the sinuses. But they did not produce evidence for this.
On balance it seems repeated and vigorous blowing of the nose may carry more risk than benefit, even though it seems to be a natural response to nasal congestion.
Can I take anything to stop the snot?
So looking to remove the need to blow so forcefully is probably a better option.
Decongestants and antihistamines, which you can buy without prescription from pharmacies, reduce both nasal congestion and the volume of mucus.
Decongestants contain ingredients like oxymetazoline and phenylephrine and come in tablets or sprays, and are often included in cold and flu tablets. They work by constricting (narrowing) dilated blood vessels in the inflamed lining of the nose, and decreasing the volume of mucus produced.
While decongestant sprays are effective, they are probably underused due to concerns about nasal congestion when you stop taking them after long-term use (rhinitis medicamentosa). But further studies have questioned this increased risk.
Antihistamines treat nasal congestion associated with hay fever, but may be less effective for treating cold symptoms.
Saline nasal sprays and washes can help. from www.shutterstock.com
Saline nose sprays have some evidence they work for acute and chronic rhinosinusitis (inflammation of the nasal lining and sinuses), and can reduce the need for medications. They are believed to clear mucus through increasing the effectiveness of the cilia as well as diluting thick and sticky mucus.
A related technique, known as nasal aspiration, is when you squirt liquid saline up the nose with a special medical device to flush out mucus and debris from the nose and sinuses. One study found it lowered the risk of developing acute otitis media (inflammation of the middle ear) and rhinosinusitis.
What’s the verdict?
If you have mucus in the nose, it is probably best to get it out, so blow gently or by clearing one nostril at a time. Use of appropriate treatments can lessen the need to blow, and the force required to clear your nose.
If you are repeatedly blowing your nose you probably have a nasal condition, like hay fever or sinusitis, which should be treated more comprehensively.
And if you see a snotty-nosed kid, please wipe away the mucus discharge for the benefit of all.
This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.
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Cold and flu season is here, which means lots and lots of snot.
If you’re sick and experiencing nasal congestion, it can be tempting to forcefully blow your nose to get rid of runny mucus. But according to experts, blowing your nose too hard could potentially do damage — both minor and major.
WATCH BELOW: Staying healthy during the cold & flu season
5:37 Staying healthy during the cold & flu season
“The issue with blowing your nose too hard is that air and pressure can go into places that you don’t necessarily want it to go into,” said Dr. Vincent Lin, an otolaryngologist and surgeon at Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto.
Lin said one of these places is the ears, as the pressure can cause them to become blocked — a similar sensation to when an airplane takes off and your ears “pop.”
“The eustachian tube basically connects your ear to the back of your nose and allows you to change pressure,” he explained to Global News, adding that the tube is a one-way valve.
In order to help alleviate that pressure, swallowing and yawning can open up the valve and allow air to move into the ear, he said.
What are some serious risks of aggressive nose blowing?
While blocked ears is an annoying feeling, it’s rarely serious unless you have a faulty valve in your ear, Lin said.
“This means you can get very, very dizzy all of a sudden and it can sometimes cause permanent hearing and balance loss.”
While rare, there have also been reported cases of orbital blowout fractures from nose blowing. Lin said he’s seen patients who’ve developed meningitis from aggressive blowing as well.
But in the case of meningitis, however, people often have an underlying health problem and the nose blowing is what introduces the bacteria that becomes meningitis.
In other words, the serious repercussions of nose blowing are not common, Lin said, and most people are likely to just block their ears.
How to properly blow your nose
While we often reach for a tissue and blow both nostrils at once, some people suggest blowing one nostril at a time to help alleviate pressure.
WATCH BELOW: Tips for tackling cold and flu symptoms
4:21 Tips for tackling cold and flu symptoms
But Lin said that the single nostril method isn’t really necessary, and the best thing to do is blow your nose gently.
“You want to try to avoid doing anything in extreme, so you don’t want to blow super, super hard,” he said.
You can usually treat a broken nose yourself. It should start getting better within 3 days and be fully healed within 3 weeks.
hold an ice pack (or bag of frozen peas) wrapped in a tea towel on your nose for up to 15 minutes, several times a day
take paracetamol to relieve pain
treat nosebleeds by sitting or standing upright and leaning forward – if possible, pinch your nose above the nostrils for up to 15 minutes
keep your head upright when lying in bed by adding more pillows – this will help to reduce swelling
read how to treat minor cuts and grazes – if you have a small cut on your nose
do not try to straighten your nose yourself if it's changed shape – go to a minor injuries unit or see a GP instead
do not wear glasses until the swelling has gone down, unless you need them
do not pick or blow your nose until it's healed
do not do strenuous exercise for the first 2 weeks
do not play sports for at least 6 weeks if there's a chance your face might be hit
Non-urgent advice: Go to a minor injuries unit or see a GP if:
- your nose is crooked (not straight) after the injury
- the swelling has not started to go down after 3 days
- painkillers are not helping
- you’re still finding it difficult to breathe through your nose after the swelling has gone
- you’re having regular nosebleeds
- you have a very high temperature (or you feel hot and shivery)
Immediate action required: Call 999 or go to A&E if you have a broken nose and:
- a nosebleed that will not stop
- a large cut or open wound on your nose or face, or something in the wound, such as glass
- clear, watery fluid trickling from your nose – this could be a sign of a serious head injury
- a severe headache with blurred or double vision
- eye pain and double vision
- neck pain or a stiff neck with numbness or tingling in your arms
- a purple swelling inside your nose – it may be painful or block your breathing
- other symptoms of a severe head injury – such as collapsing (passing out) or difficulty speaking
Treatment from a GP
A GP might prescribe stronger painkillers if paracetamol is not helping.
If you have a severe broken nose or it’s changed shape, you may be referred to a specialist in hospital for assessment and treatment.
Treating a severe broken nose in hospital
If your nose has changed shape
A doctor in hospital may be able to make your nose straighter using a procedure called manipulation.
You might have to go home and wait a few days for the swelling to go down first, but the procedure should be done within 14 days of you breaking your nose.
Manipulation is done using anaesthetic so that you’re asleep or your nose is numbed. It does not always make your nose look exactly the same as it was before, but it often helps.
If you have a large wound
The wound will usually be cleaned and sealed with stitches or strips in hospital.
If your nose will not stop bleeding
A doctor may place a soft gauze pad in your nose. The pad will be removed by the doctor a few days later.
Page last reviewed: 16 November 2020
Next review due: 16 November 2023
There are many reasons children get bloody noses: allergies in the spring, summer and fall can contribute to a bloody nose, and so can the dryness of winter. As pediatrician Dr. Cindy Gellner explains, it’s the frequent rubbing and blowing of the nose that can actually lead to the bleeding. She tells parents how to treat a bloody nose at home and what to do if the bleeding doesn’t stop.
Anytime your child bleeds it can be scary for a parent. Noses bleed often and it can seem like a lot of blood is coming out for a very long time.
Causes for Nosebleeds
Nosebleeds are usually caused by dryness in the nose and the normal rubbing and picking that all kids do when their noses are blocked or itchy. Some kids really blow their nose hard and that can also cause bleeding. Children who have nasal allergies, which we see a lot in the spring, summer, and fall, are also more likely to have nosebleeds because they rub their noses and blow them more often. Being hit in the nose and other injuries may also cause nosebleeds, but usually there are other symptoms that go along with that too. Nosebleeds are extremely common throughout childhood and there is a good chance that your child will have several as they grow up.
How to Stop The Bleeding
So how can you stop the bleeding? You should be able to stop it at home within 20 minutes. To do this, have your child sit up, lean forward, and if they’ve had any blood run down their throat from the back of their nose, spit it out. Swallowed blood is irritating to the stomach so don’t be surprised if your child vomits it up. Have your child blow his nose once to remove any large clots. Then gently pinch the soft part of the lower nose between your thumb and forefinger for 10 minutes. If your child is old enough, teach him how and where to hold his nose.
Have your child breathe through his mouth. Don’t release the pressure until 10 minutes are up. You want to make sure to give it enough time to stop on its own. If the bleeding continues, you may not be pressing on the right spot. You can also insert gauze covered with Vaseline into the nostril and squeeze the nose closed again for another 10 minutes. Leave the gauze in for another 10 minutes before you remove it after you’ve stopped squeezing the nose. If the bleeding continues and it’s been more than 20 minutes, call your pediatrician, but continue the pressure in the meantime.
Mistakes Treating Nosebleeds
A few common mistakes in treating nosebleeds are putting a cold wash on the forehead, bridge of the nose, back of the neck or under the upper lip. That doesn’t help stop nosebleeds at all. Also, pressing on the bony part of your nose doesn’t help stop nosebleeds because you’re not pressing on where the blood is coming from.
So how can you prevent your child from having so many nosebleeds? You can use a small amount of that Vaseline and put it twice a day to the center wall of the inside of the nose, called the septum. Use a cotton swab rather than a finger to do this. That often helps heal the dryness on the inside of the nose. Increasing the humidity in the room that your child sleeps in by using a humidifier also helps. You should use nasal saline to moisturize the noise and wash away any irritants and pollens and do this every day. If your child has nasal allergies, treating those allergies with antihistamines will also help break the itch-bleeding cycle. And never allow anyone to smoke around your child.
So when should you be worried about your child’s nosebleeds? Mainly, you should be worried if the bleeding does not stop after 30 minutes of direct pressure on the nose, they happen more than four times a week but despite doing the preventive measures or they lose so much blood they’re feeling dizzy. Remember, nosebleeds may look scary, but often the cause isn’t.
Stuck in stuffy nose hell? As tempting as it is to blow through a tissue box a day, the temporary relief you might feel isn’t worth it.
“Blowing your nose with too much force can actually cause breakage of vessels and undue stress,” says Purvi Parikh, M.D., an allergist and immunologist with Virginia-based Allergy & Asthma Network.
You could also make matters worse by blowing air, nasal bacteria, virus particles, and irritants into your ears and sinuses—which at best could cause irritation, and at worst may trigger an infection, says Andrew Lane, M.D., director of the division of Rhinology and Sinus Surgery Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.
Besides, it’s essentially pointless to keep reaching for tissues. “If you’re sick, no matter how much you blow, your nose will keep making new mucus,” Dr. Lane says. “You can’t really ‘clear’ it.”
That’s because the stuffiness you feel comes from your nasal passage tissue swelling. So you need to treat the underlying cause—be it allergies, a virus, or bacteria—to nix your snot gridlock for good.
Put the Kleenex down and try these three ways to breathe easier. None of them will blow your mind, but they’re more effective than blowing your nose.
(For more essential health advice—and 2,000+ awesome life tips to help you become stronger, happier, and sexier—check out The Better Man Project, the brand-new book from the editor in chief of Men’s Health.)
1. Steam It Out
Warm air helps add humidity to your nose, opening your nasal passage and breaking up congestion—especially the kind that has hardened into a wall—so you can then blow out the blockage, says Dr. Parikh.
You can try a couple methods. The easiest is taking a long shower every day that you’re sick, which you’re probably doing anyway. But crank the knob so it’s hotter than usual: If your mirror fogs up, it’s steamy enough to clear your nasal package, Dr. Parikh says.
If you’ve got some time to kill, boil a pot of water and stand directly over it, inhaling the steam for up to 30 minutes.
2. Start the Right Nasal Spray, Stat
Over-the-counter sprays can help decrease and treat underlying inflammation, helping cure your congestion instead of just providing brief relief, says Dr. Parikh.
The only bummer: Fast-acting sprays like Afrin and oxymetazoline are potentially addictive, and can actually make your congestion come back worse if you use them too often.
So opt for Nasacort or Flonase, which take at least 7 days to kick in, but boast the best combination of safety and effectiveness, Dr. Parikh says.
3. Take an Allergy Pill
While you’re waiting for the sprays to work, consider popping an allergy pill like Zyrtec, Claritin, or Allegra, suggests Dr. Parikh. Even if your sniffles aren’t from hay fever or pollen, the antihistamine component in these meds still works to dry up your snot.
Just skip the kind of medicine with a “D” after it. Some decongestants, like Sudafed, have that same potential addictiveness and congesting-worsening properties as short-term nasal sprays.
Decongestants can also dehydrate, keeping your mucus thick, Dr. Lane says.
Nosebleeds are common in kids 3 to 10 years old, and most are caused by nose-picking or dry air. They can be scary, but usually aren’t serious. Most will stop on their own and can be cared for at home.
What to Do:
- Stay calm and reassure your child.
- Have your child sit upright in a chair or on your lap, then tilt his or her head slightly forward.
- Do not have your child lean back. This may cause blood to flow down the back of the throat, which tastes bad and may cause gagging, coughing, or vomiting.
- Gently pinch the soft part of the nose (just below the bony ridge) with a tissue or clean washcloth.
- Keep pressure on the nose for about 10 minutes; if you stop too soon, bleeding may start again.
- Have your child relax a while after a nosebleed. Discourage nose-blowing, picking, or rubbing, and any rough play.
Call the Doctor if Your Child:
- has nosebleeds often
- may have put something in his or her nose
- tends to bruise easily
- has heavy bleeding from minor wounds or bleeding from another place, such as the gums
- recently started taking new medicine
Get Emergency Care or Call the Doctor if Bleeding:
- is heavy, or your child also has dizziness or weakness
- is the result of a fall or blow to the head
- doesn’t stop after two attempts of applying pressure for 10 minutes each
Different Kinds of Nosebleeds
The most common kind of nosebleed is an anterior nosebleed, which comes from the front of the nose. Capillaries, or very small blood vessels, inside the nose may break and bleed, causing this type of nosebleed.
A posterior nosebleed comes from the deepest part of the nose. Blood flows down the back of the throat even if the person is sitting or standing. Kids rarely have posterior nosebleeds. They’re more common in older adults, those with high blood pressure, and people who have had nose or face injuries.
What Causes Nosebleeds?
Most anterior nosebleeds are due to dry air. A dry climate or heated indoor air irritates and dries out nasal membranes. This causes crusts that may itch, then bleed when scratched or picked. Common colds also can irritate the lining of the nose, with bleeding following repeated nose-blowing. Having a cold during dry winter weather is the perfect formula for nosebleeds.
Allergies also can cause problems, as doctors may prescribe medicine (such as antihistamines or decongestants) to control an itchy, runny, or stuffy nose. The medicine can dry out nasal membranes, leading to nosebleeds.
An injury or blow to the nose can cause bleeding, but most aren’t a serious problem. But if your child has a facial injury that causes a bloody nose and you can’t stop the bleeding after 10 minutes or have other concerns about the injury, get medical care right away.
While nosebleeds are rarely serious, there might be a problem if they happen a lot. If your child gets nosebleeds more than once a week, call your doctor. Usually, frequent nosebleeds are easily treated. Sometimes tiny blood vessels inside the nose are irritated and don’t heal, which happens more often in kids with ongoing allergies or who get a lot of colds. A doctor might be able to help in these cases.
For bleeding not due to a sinus infection, allergies, or irritated blood vessels, a doctor may order tests to find the cause. Rarely, a bleeding disorder or abnormally formed blood vessels could be a possibility.
Can Nosebleeds Be Prevented?
Since most nosebleeds in kids are caused by nose-picking or irritation from hot dry air, using a few simple tips may help your kids avoid them:
- Keep your child’s nails short to prevent injuries from nose-picking.
- Keep the inside of your child’s nose moist with saline (saltwater) nasal spray or gel, or dab petroleum jelly or antibiotic ointment gently around the opening of the nostrils.
- Run a cool-mist humidifier (or vaporizer) in bedrooms if the air in your home is dry. Keep the machine clean to prevent mildew buildup.
- Make sure your kids wear protective athletic equipment during sports or other activities that could cause a nose injury.
Even with proper precautions, kids can still get a bloody nose occasionally. So if your child gets a nosebleed, try not to panic. They’re usually harmless and are almost always easy to stop.
The uncomfortable, plugged feeling of a stuffy nose is common with colds and allergies. For most people, this type of nasal congestion is just an annoyance and inconvenience. It decreases their sense of smell, changes the way that foods taste and causes facial pain, and it can be accompanied by a running or dripping nose. However, it improves after the cold or allergies are gone.
Some people’s stuffy noses don’t resolve after other symptoms are gone. This long-lasting stuffy nose is called chronic rhinosinusitis. This happens when your sinuses are swollen and inflamed for three months or longer, despite treatment.
Here are some answers to common questions about sinusitis:
What is sinusitis?
Sinusitis occurs when the hollow spaces inside your nose and head ― your sinuses ― are swollen and inflamed. Typically, sinuses have a thin lining that produces small amounts of mucus. Healthy sinuses are filled with air. In sinusitis, the lining gets inflamed and makes more mucus. The swelling of the lining also interferes with the way mucus normally drains, making your nose stuffy. Sinusitis can be brought on by an infection; growths in the sinuses, such as nasal polyps; or swelling of the lining of your sinuses due to conditions such as allergies.
Common signs and symptoms of sinusitis include:
- Thick, discolored discharge, or mucus, from the nose
- Drainage down the back of the throat, which also is known as postnasal drainage
- Nasal obstruction or congestion, causing difficulty breathing through your nose
- Pain, pressure, fullness or tenderness, and swelling around your eyes, cheeks, nose or forehead
- Reduced sense of smell and taste
Other less common symptoms can include:
- Cough or frequent throat clearing
- Ear pain or pressure
- Dental pain
- Nasal or throat irritation
- Bad breath
- Voice hoarseness
What is chronic sinusitis?
Chronic sinusitis is a long-lasting form of sinusitis, and it is diagnosed when symptoms persist for longer than three months. Acute sinusitis is the most common type of sinusitis. It is a temporary condition, typically occurring when you have a cold. It usually gets better within a month or less.
Acute sinusitis can turn into a chronic condition if you have had sinusitis multiple times, have infections that don’t respond to treatment or you have sinusitis symptoms that last more than three months.
Common causes of chronic sinusitis include nasal polyps; deviated nasal septum; complications of conditions, such as cystic fibrosis, HIV and other diseases related to the immune system; recurrent respiratory infections; or allergies.
When should you see an ear, nose and throat specialist?
If you suspect you’re having chronic sinus problems, then your primary care provider is a good place to start. He or she may recommend nasal steroid sprays, saline nasal irrigations, oral steroids, allergy medications or antibiotics.
If your symptoms don’t respond to these more conservative treatments, then it may be time to see an ear, nose and throat specialist, also known as an otorhinolaryngologist. These specialists provide consultation, diagnose and treat disorders of the ear, nose, head and neck, including the sinuses, hearing, adenoids, tonsils and thyroid conditions.
What can you expect during your ear, nose and throat visit?
During a first visit, the specialist likely will spend a good portion of time getting to know you. That includes learning more about your day-to-day life and how sinus symptoms are affecting it. Then the specialist will complete a head and neck exam, paying particular attention to the nose. Typically, a small thin tube with a light and camera at the end called a nasal endoscope is used. This endoscope goes in the nose to get a better look at the nasal passages and sinus openings.
What treatments are available for sinusitis?
Treatment typically starts as conservative as possible. If medical treatments have been tried and your condition hasn’t responded, a CT scan of your sinuses may be ordered to get a better look at the sinus anatomy. If allergies are contributing to your symptoms, then allergy shots, or immunotherapy, may improve your condition. If you have nasal polyps, which are growths in your nose and sinuses, then you may be a candidate for new medications called biologic agents that are given as a regular injection and can help shrink nasal polyps and improve your nasal congestion.
If you have allergic reactions to aspirin, aspirin desensitization treatment can help your sinusitis and nasal polyposis. If your symptoms persist despite several of the above measures and your condition resists medical treatment, then surgery might be a good option for you.
What does sinus surgery involve?
Sinus surgery is typically performed under general anesthesia in the operating room. Most ENT specialists use a minimally invasive endoscopic approach, which uses a small camera inside the nose. No external incisions are made.
Your surgeon will use various instruments to open the natural sinus passages to allow better mucous drainage, and better penetration of nasal sprays and irrigations. Your surgeon will clear the source of the blockage within your sinuses by removing inflamed tissue and shaving away nasal polyps.
Your surgeon also may use image guidance during surgery. This allows the surgeon to see the surrounding anatomy and location of instruments as the procedure is performed to avoid damaging critical structures, such as the eye; skull base; and major blood vessels, including the carotid artery. It uses the patient’s preoperative CT scan so the surgeon can tell in real time exactly where the instrument tip is.
Sinus surgery is typically an outpatient, same-day surgery. Most patients don’t experience significant pain afterward and find relief from their chronic sinusitis symptoms.
Nosebleeds. Everyone has had one. While they are often frightening, they are rarely anything more than a nuisance.
What Causes a Nosebleed?
When the membranes lining the inside of the nose dry out and become irritated, the blood vessels break, causing a nosebleed. These are more common in the winter months, when the air is cold and dry. Other factors that may contribute to nosebleeds include:
- Nose picking
- Blowing the nose too hard
- Frequent sneezing
- Overuse of nasal sprays
- Foreign objects in the nose
- Trauma to the nose
There are two types of nosebleeds, anterior and posterior. Anterior nosebleeds are the most common and are caused by bleeding in the front part of the nose. The bleeding from a posterior nosebleed comes from an artery in the back portion of the nose.
If nosebleeds are chronic or occur frequently, they may be the result of high blood pressure or other vascular diseases or, in rare cases, a serious medical condition like a tumor.
What Are the Symptoms of a Nosebleed?
Bleeding from only one nostril is the most common symptom of a nosebleed. Usually a nosebleed from both nostrils is due to a heavy flow from one nostril; the blood has just backed up and overflown into the other. If blood drips down the back of the throat into the stomach you may spit up or vomit blood. Excessive blood loss can cause a feeling of dizziness, light-headedness and fainting.
How Do You Treat a Nosebleed?
More often than not, a nosebleed can be easily controlled at home. Sit up straight, lean your head forward and pinch the nostrils together with your thumb and index finger for 10 minutes. Try not to swallow any blood as it may cause you to vomit. Once the bleeding has stopped, try not to blow your nose for the next 24 hours and avoid dry air.
If this home remedy does not stop the bleeding, you will have to visit your Carlsbad doctor. If the bleeding is coming from a blood vessel at the front of the nose, your doctor can easily seal up the opening with silver nitrate in a process called cauterizing. If the blood vessel is further back, nasal packing may be needed. This involves packing the nasal cavity with gauze, which puts pressure on the vessel and will stop the bleeding. The packing is left in place for 24 to 72 hours.
If the bleeding is coming from the back of the nose (a posterior nosebleed) a special type of packing is needed. You may need to be hospitalized and will be given a sedative and pain medication. The packing is left in place for 48 to 72 hours. If the bleeding still does not stop, surgery may be needed.
For those who are prone to nosebleeds, your Carlsbad otolaryngologist recommends taking steps to prevent them. Keep the nasal lining moist with a light coating of petroleum jelly several times a day, or use a saline nasal spray. Run a humidifier, especially if you live in a dry climate. Quit smoking; this causes dryness and irritation.
Scabs are a normal part of the healing process, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t cause any problems. Could scabs in your nose be a sign of something serious and when should you see a doctor about them?
What Causes Nose Scabs?
A scab is a protective crust that forms over your skin when it is damaged. Scabs can form on any part of your body, including on the delicate tissue that lines your nasal passages.
Scabs can form in the nose for various reasons:
- Scabs can form after an injury to your nose (even if it’s just from picking too much!) or when you are recovering from any kind of nasal surgery. Your doctor might pack your nose with absorbent material to reduce bleeding and give your nose a chance to heal.
- Nose bleeds can create scabs, which may bleed again if they fall off before your nose is fully healed. Some people are simply more likely to experience nose bleeds, but the other causes of scabbing in this list can also cause bleeding.
- Inflammation can sometimes cause scabbing, especially if you have an allergy, sinusitis, or other condition that is causing chronic inflammation.
- Some infections can cause scabs due to inflammation and damage to the delicate skin inside your nose too.
- Dryness and temperature changes: dry air and very hot or cold environments can damage the nasal lining, which may produce scabs.
- Other kinds of growths in your nose could be mistaken for scabs, so it’s a good idea to get checked out if there are any unusual changes or a scab seems to be sticking around for a long time.
Risks of Nose Scabs
Nose scabs aren’t usually serious, but if they get too big or if they’re in the wrong place they can sometimes cause some uncomfortable symptoms. As you can tell from the list of causes, nose scabs can also be a sign of an underlying issue that needs to be addressed.
- A large or awkwardly positioned nose scab could interfere with your breathing, especially if you’re also experiencing problems such as inflammation or nosebleeds.
- Nose scabs can be painful or uncomfortable, especially when they are big or if you need to blow your nose.
- If there is an underlying cause, such as an infection or allergy, then it could be causing other problems for your health too. Getting the right treatment should prevent more nose scabs and help with other symptoms too.
- In rare cases, a crusty bump in the nasal passage that doesn’t go away could be a tumour rather than a scab. It may need to be removed if there is a risk of cancer.
Should You Be Worried About Nose Scabs?
A nose scab isn’t usually anything to worry about. Most scabs should heal in about a week, so as long as there aren’t any issues such as bleeding or breathing difficulties, you won’t usually need to see a doctor. However, if your scabs don’t go away, you’re experiencing other symptoms, or you seem to get them frequently, it’s a good idea to see a doctor.
I have a scab on the inside of my nose, which appeared a number of months ago, I think due to me cleaning my nose and scratching the soft skin layer. It will not heal anymore, and I wake up each morning with a scab of blood and dryish nasal mucus, which I end up having to remove as my nose is pretty blocked as it is. I have not seen the GP about this as of yet.
11 May 2021
The skin within our nose can become injured for a number of reasons, including allergies, trauma, use of certain medication as well as some underlying medical conditions. If you are frequently cleaning the inside of the nose it is likely that this wound is due to the ‘trauma’ caused by this, and that the regular cleaning is disrupting the wound’s natural healing cycle.
That being said, as with any wound on or skin that doesn’t appear to be healing as it should, this should always be checked by your GP. Sometimes delayed wound healing can be a symptom of an underlying medical condition, including poorly controlled diabetes [Diabetes UK, 2021], a sign of infection, or occasionally due to more serious conditions, such as skin cancer [Cancer Research UK, 2021]. If after assessment your GP feels that you would benefit from some further investigations into why the wound in your nose isn’t healing as it should, they may wish to refer you on to a specialist [NHS, 2021]; which specialist to see will depend on the likely underlying cause, but this could be a dermatologist or an Ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialist, for example.
What the best treatment is will depend on what we believe the underlying cause to be. The most likely cause here, as you suggest, is that by regular cleaning inside the nostril, the scab that has formed is being knocked, which essentially means that you take a ‘step back’ in the wound healing process; as much as possible it would be sensible to avoid cleaning the inside of your nose now until the wound has fully had time to heal, to prevent reopening of the wound.
If the wound has become infected, or you are suffering with a condition that may need some further treatment, your GP will be able to prescribe you any necessary medications to help with this; whether it is those to treat the underlying condition or antibiotics for an infection [NHS, 2021].
If your wound has become chronic, and your GP has ruled out any infection or underling medical condition, then you may benefit from speaking with your local pharmacist about any over the counter creams, nasal rinses or other topical treatments that are available to you to help speed up this process and reduce any inflammation [Wound Care Society, 2021].
If you would like to discuss this through further with one of our pharmacists in the Health at Hand team, you can also call us directly on 0800 003 004; pharmacists are available 8am-8pm Monday to Friday, 8am-4pm on Saturdays and 8am-12pm on Sunday. If you call outside of these hours one of our nurses will be happy to arrange a call back for you at a suitable time.
There are some things that can make the development of wounds inside the nose more likely, or that may delay the wound healing process. If you can identify, and eliminate, any of these potential risk factors then this may help to promote wound healing.
Some external factors that may cause crusting or scabbing around the nose include:
- Environmental dryness – Heating and/or air conditioning may contribute to this
- Medications – this could be a side effect of oral medications or nasal sprays used
- Extended periods of time in a very dry environment, such as during air travel.
Things you can do to help promote wound healing:
Try to ensure that the environment you are in has moisture in the air; you could benefit from using an air humidifier to help with this.
Speak to your local pharmacist about any moisturising or lubricating creams, this could be petroleum jelly or a saline nasal spray for example, that can help to reduce dryness in the nose.
Ensure that you are keeping well hydrated; if our body is dehydrated then the mucus membranes of our bodies; of which the nasal membrane is one, can also dry out and be more prone to injuries.
Frequent blowing and/or picking at the nose can also lead to trauma, or the dislodging of scabs that are already present; it is best to avoid these activities, especially whilst this wound is healing.
Avoid smoking and use of other drugs as these substances are known to dry out and irritate the mucus membrane of the nose [Healthline, 2021].
I hope that this information is useful, but in this situation, it is best to speak with your GP for a review to rule out any conditions needing further treatment.
If you would like to discuss this through with one of our nurses, you can also call our medical information line here at Health at Hand on 0800 003 004; nurses are available 24/7.
Diabetes UK, 2021. Slow healing of cuts and wounds. Available at: Slow Healing of Wounds and Cuts – Causes and Treatment (diabetes.co.uk). (Accessed 10 May 2021).
Cancer Research UK, 2021. Skin cancer symptoms. Available at: Skin cancer symptoms | Cancer Research UK. (Accessed 10 May 2021).
Healthline, 2021. What’s causing scabs in my nose? Available at: Scabs in Nose: Causes, Treatments, and More (healthline.com). (Accessed 10 May 2021).
NHS, 2021. Cuts and grazes. Available at: Cuts and grazes – NHS (www.nhs.uk). (Accessed 10 May 2021).
Wound Care Society, 2021. How to heal a sore inside nose. Available at: How to heal sore inside nose – Wound Care Society. (Accessed 10 May 2021).
Answered by the Health at Hand team.
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You’re as stuffed up as if you had a cold or allergies — and what’s with the bloody nose that appears every week? If it helps you feel any better, you’re not alone: nasal congestion and nosebleeds during pregnancy are a very common issue and can even last the whole nine months (pass the tissues!).
But while congestion and nosebleeds while you’re expecting are certainly an annoyance, they’re definitely treatable. For more about when a stuffy nose usually starts during pregnancy, what’s behind it and some quick ways to find relief, read on.
When do congestion and nosebleeds generally start during pregnancy?
Nasal congestion is a classic sign of pregnancy so don’t be surprised if you develop a case of stuffiness and even a few nosebleeds around week 16. In fact, stopped-up noses are so commonplace that congestion affected a whopping 65 percent of pregnant women enrolled in one study.
And if you think you’ll get a break from the dripping and blowing in a later trimester, that’s usually not the case. Congestion during pregnancy tends to stick with you (and sometimes it gets worse) to the very end. Remember — keep the tissues or a few hankies handy!
What causes congestion and nosebleeds during pregnancy?
Alas, it probably feels like every part of your body is swelling these days (thanks to pregnancy edema), but honestly, now your nose? If you were prone to feeling stuffy and blocked before pregnancy, you’re likely to feel it even more now. Plus your allergies may be kicking in, which only adds to your nose woes.
Congestion and nosebleeds happen often in pregnancy thanks to increased vascularity or blood flow and the swelling of mucus membranes, which is also known as pregnancy rhinitis. And the culprit behind it all? Yup, you can point to higher-than-usual levels of the pregnancy hormones estrogen and progesterone coursing through your veins.
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This extra blood flow and swelling softens nasal membranes, leading to congestion. What’s more, the constant blowing and sneezing can dry out your nose, causing it to bleed easily.
You may also develop postnasal drip, which in turn can cause coughing or gagging at night (as if you didn’t have enough other things keeping you awake).
Can nosebleeds affect pregnancy?
Fortunately, you don’t need to worry that your stuffy nose and occasional nosebleeds are a bad sign during pregnancy. Truth is, these conditions don’t adversely affect you or your baby on board.
But if you’re experiencing a bloody nose almost daily, it may be due to a single vessel that keeps bleeding. Luckily, it can be cauterized at an ENT’s office, which will put a stop to frequent nosebleeds.
How do I get rid of congestion and nosebleeds during pregnancy?
While you can’t prevent congestion during pregnancy or the nosebleeds that come with it, you can ease the soreness and dryness as well as treat symptoms with OTC options. Just be sure to clear anything you’re planning to take with your doctor first.
Here’s what you should know:
Blow the right way. To clear your breathing passages without doing too much damage to those delicate nasal membranes, use the right blowing technique. Use your thumb to close one nostril, and blow gently out the other side. Repeat with the other nostril until you can breathe again. Make sure you use a soft tissue to prevent chafing.
Ask about OTC relief. Medications like antihistamines and most decongestant nasal sprays may be safe for short-term use — so ask your practitioner to recommend one that’s effective and okay for you to take while you’re pregnant. Saline sprays, decongestant chest ointments and nasal strips are also considered safe for you and baby.
Moisten the air. Try putting a warm-mist humidifier in your room to add some nose-soothing moisture to the air.
Moisten in there. To combat the dryness in your nose, dab a little petroleum jelly in each nostril using a cotton swab.
Get more vitamin C. Eating extra vitamin C-rich fruits and veggies like kiwis, bell peppers and tomatoes may make your capillaries stronger, which reduces the chance of nosebleeds during pregnancy.
Lean in. If you do get a nosebleed, lean slightly forward rather than back, and pinch closed the area right above your nostrils and below the bridge of your nose for five minutes. If the bleeding continues, repeat. If nosebleeds are frequent during pregnancy, speak with the doctor.
How long does nasal congestion last during pregnancy?
As with many conditions of pregnancy, you’ll have to get mentally prepared to live with nasal congestion and nosebleeds for a while. Chances are, your case of pregnancy rhinitis will probably get progressively worse as you go through the nine months — and your nose won’t know relief until after delivery. For most women, congestion usually clears up in the first week postpartum.
When should I call the doctor about my stuffy nose and congestion during pregnancy?
You can always bring up a stuffy nose and nosebleeds at your next prenatal appointment or make a call sooner if you’re very uncomfortable. This way, your practitioner can make sure your congestion isn’t a sign of something more serious, like sinusitis. Be sure you’ve had the flu shot, as you’re more susceptible to infection during pregnancy.
And if your nose is blocked enough to cause sleeplessness, exhaustion, excessive snoring or other symptoms that can severely affect your quality of life during pregnancy, he or she can recommend treatment options that ease your air flow and help you get the rest you and your growing baby need.
Hang in there when it comes to nasal congestion and nosebleeds! While these aren’t much fun and some days they can be downright messy, keep in mind that you’ll be breathing more easily in the days right after your sweet bundle of joy arrives.
The Weirdest Pregnancy Symptoms
From the What to Expect editorial team and Heidi Murkoff, author of What to Expect When You’re Expecting. What to Expect follows strict reporting guidelines and uses only credible sources, such as peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions and highly respected health organizations. Learn how we keep our content accurate and up-to-date by reading our medical review and editorial policy.
The nasal sinuses are four pairs of air-filled cavities within the bones of the face — above and around the eyes and nose. They are connected by small openings to the nasal cavity (the area between the nostrils and the back of the throat, through which we breathe).
The sinuses are lined with mucous membranes that produce slippery fluid called mucus, which helps to remove dust, bacteria, and other air pollutants from the sinuses and nasal cavity. In healthy sinuses, air passes in and out of the sinuses and mucus drains into the back of the nasal cavity.
Any condition that prevents the flow of air into, and drainage of mucus out of, the sinuses can lead to sinusitis. Most often the condition is caused by infection but it can also be the result of an allergic reaction. Sinusitis can be acute (short-lasting) or chronic (long-term).
Sinusitis is usually caused by infection, although swelling from allergies can mimic the symptoms of pressure, pain, and congestion. Usually the infection that causes sinusitis is bacterial, though viral and fungal infections can also cause the condition.
Obstructions within the nasal cavity or sinuses such as when the partition between the nostrils is off-centre (deviated septum) or nasal polyps (small growths on the mucous membrane) can lead to sinusitis by preventing the drainage of mucus and creating a breeding ground for infection.
The following may increase the risk of sinusitis:
- Upper respiratory airways infection (eg: a cold or flu)
- Allergy and related conditions (eg: asthma, hay fever)
- Dental infection
- Cystic fibrosis
- Weakened immune system (eg: due to chemotherapy)
- A change in atmospheric pressure (eg: air travel or scuba diving)
- Smoking and other air pollutants.
Signs and symptoms
One of the most common symptoms of sinusitis is pain, and the location of that pain depends on which sinus is affected. The pain may be worsened by bending, coughing, or sneezing. Other symptoms may include:
- Nasal congestion
- Nasal discharge (which may be yellowish, greenish, or blood-stained if infection is present)
- Post-nasal drainage (drainage of mucus down the back of the throat)
- Sore throat
- Decreased sense of smell
- A general feeling of fullness of the face.
Chronic and acute sinusitis have similar signs and symptoms — the key distinction between them is their length of time you have the symptoms.
Acute sinusitis that’s caused by a cold or allergies like hay fever will usually clear up in a week or two. Acute sinusitis may sometimes clear up and, after a period of no symptoms, come back again.
The transition to chronic sinusitis occurs when a patient has continuous symptoms for more than three months. The sinuses may become narrowed or closed completely due to chronic infection and inflammation. Ongoing allergies and environmental irritants (eg: cigarette smoke) may be a cause.
Diagnosis of sinusitis can be difficult as its symptoms can mimic those of a common cold. A doctor will discuss the nature and duration of symptoms, and perform a physical examination including looking in the ears, throat, and nose.
In recurrent and chronic cases, a referral to an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialist for additional investigation may be necessary.
These may include:
- Examination of the nasal cavity and sinus openings with an endoscope (a small, thin telescope which enables the structures to be viewed through the telescope or on a TV monitor).
- CT scan (specialised X-ray imaging that allows a cross-sectional view of the sinuses to be seen).
- X-rays (less commonly used as CT scans give better resolution)
- Allergy tests and nasal/sinus cultures to identify the allergen or bacteria causing the sinusitis.
Treatment aims to relieve symptoms and restore the normal flow of air and mucus through the sinuses.
Antibiotics are used to treat bacterial infection. A 7- to 10-day course of medication is usually prescribed. Longer courses may be needed for cases of recurrent or chronic sinusitis.
Decongestants relieve nasal congestion by drying up the mucus. These can be in the form of tablets and nasal drops or sprays. Care must be taken as decongestants can excessively dry the nasal mucous membranes, which leads to further swelling and congestion. It is important to clearly follow the medication instructions when using nasal decongestants.
Corticosteroid medications such as prednisone may be prescribed, in conjunction with an extended course of antibiotics, to treat cases of chronic sinusitis. Corticosteroid nasal sprays may also be prescribed.
Other treatments that aim to relieve the symptoms include pain-relieving medications, such as paracetamol and ibuprofen, steam inhalers, saline nasal sprays, and the application of heat or cold packs to the area surrounding the sinuses. Drinking plenty of fluids helps to thin the mucus so that it drains more easily.
Avoiding allergens (allergy-producing irritants) and taking antihistamines medications to reduce allergic reactions may also prove effective. If allergies contribute to the sinusitis, treatment that gradually builds up immunity to allergens (desensitisation therapy) may be recommended.
Surgery may be recommended for cases of recurrent or chronic sinusitis where non-surgical treatment has not been effective. It aims to improve airflow and drainage between the sinuses and the nasal cavity by correcting structural abnormalities such as a deviated septum, removing obstructions such as polyps, and by removing areas of diseased tissue.
Endoscopic surgical techniques have largely replaced conventional open surgery for sinusitis in New Zealand. Open surgery is used mainly in the treatment of seriously damaged sinuses or to allow areas not easily reached by an endoscope to be treated.
Endoscopic sinus surgery is usually a day-stay procedure performed under either a general anaesthetic or a local anaesthetic with sedation. The endoscope allows the surgeon to easily see the inside of nasal cavity and into the sinus openings. The surgery can be performed with minimal damage to healthy tissue.
There is usually only minimal pain after the surgery and this may be treated with pain-relieving medications such as paracetamol. Antibiotics may be prescribed to prevent post-operative infection and nasal sprays may be prescribed to flush out debris and promote healing.
The surgeon will give recovery and activity guidelines before the patient goes home. It is usually advised to take some time off work; avoid exercise, strenuous activity, and bending; and not to blow the nose for a period.
Preventing sinusitis may be possible during a cold or when allergies are problematic by:
Jenny Sweigard, MD, is board-certified in internal medicine. She is an in-patient physician at Novant Health Huntersville Medical Center in North Carolina.
Does every season seem to be the season for a runny nose ( rhinorrhea )? That's because there are 13 common causes of a runny nose. Some of them can affect you as equally at one time of year as any other.
The common cold and allergies may be obvious culprits. However, there could also be something more surprising behind your sniffles (like spicy food or hormones).
This article discusses the 13 reasons you may have a runny nose and how you can finally put the tissues away.
The Common Cold
Also known as: Upper respiratory infection (URI)
The common cold can be caused by several viruses, rhinovirus being the most common.
The common cold causes a runny nose by allowing fluids to pass more easily through blood vessels in the nose. This allows for leakage of fluid or serum into the nasal passages. Sometimes you may have a runny nose on one side only or even a constant runny nose.
Rhinorrhea usually occurs within the first two to three days after you become infected with a common cold virus. Mucus usually starts out clear and may turn white, yellow, or even green after a couple of days.
Treatments for a runny nose from the common cold include the nasal spray Atrovent (intranasal ipratropium) or first-generation antihistamines, including:
- Brompheniramine, found in Dimetapp Cold & Allergy
- Chlorpheniramine, found in Chlor-Trimeton
- Diphenhydramine, found in Benadryl Allergy
If your runny nose continues for more than 10 days, see a healthcare provider. You may have a bacterial infection that can be treated with antibiotics.
Also known as: Hay fever and allergic rhinitis
Allergic rhinitis, also known as hay fever or allergies, can cause a runny nose. You may often experience a runny nose related to allergies during the spring or the fall.
You may get a runny nose because of your body’s inflammatory response due to pollen in the air. Pollen comes from:
- Flowering plants
Nasal secretions from allergies are usually clear, but they may also contain pus.
If you have mild to moderate allergy symptoms, the first line of treatment is an oral antihistamine or nasal antihistamine spray. Glucocorticoid nasal sprays, which help decrease inflammation, are also effective.
Antihistamines will help with the runny nose. But antihistamines don’t really work when trying to treat allergy-related nasal congestion.
If allergies are causing your runny nose, try an antihistamine medication, like Benadryl (diphenhydramine), or a glucocorticoid nasal spray, like Flonase (fluticasone).