The nose has several functions, including humidification, warming, and filtering air so that the lungs can receive optimal conditions for oxygen exchange. If the function of the nose is disrupted, you may experience detrimental consequences, including dry nose.

Causes of Dry Nose

There are numerous common causes of a dry nose, from being in a hot, dry climate to being exposed to a drying agent such as air conditioning. High climates tend to be colder and dryer and can contribute to worsening nasal conditions. People who smoke cigarettes or marijuana may also suffer from dry nose after chronic use.

Another common cause of dry nose includes medications, especially overuse of antihistamines (Benadryl, Claritin), nasal corticosteroids (Flonase, Xhance, Fluticasone), or nasal and oral decongestants (Oxymetazoline, Sudafed, Afrin). A number of prescription medications may also cause dry nose, including anticholinergics, diuretics, and medications for high blood pressure and acne.

Dr. Pasha often sees patients who suffer from a dry nose after having a turbinectomy, which is removal or over-reduction of the turbinates. The turbinates are shelves in the inside of the nose that are primarily responsible for warming, filtering, and moisturizing inhaled air. If your turbinates are removed completely or over-resected, you may suffer from “empty nose syndrome” or atrophic rhinitis. Although removing the turbinates creates more room in the nose, the air tumbles as you inhale, causing you to have the sensation of a blocked, dry nose.

This condition is quite debilitating, as the cure can be challenging. Aside from a dry nose, atrophic rhinitis causes a paradoxical nasal obstruction.

Systemic causes of a dry nose are less common but may include nutritional deficiencies (especially vitamin C) as well as various autoimmune diseases. Sjogren’s disease is a more common autoimmune disease that is also associated with dry eyes, dry mouth, and parotid gland swelling (salivary glands in the cheeks). Other systemic diseases include Wegener’s disease and Sarcoidosis.

In addition to being irritating, dry nose can lead to other issues, such as recurrent nosebleeds, throat and upper airway infections, or changes in smell and foul odors.

Treating Dry Nose

Addressing dry nose begins with a thorough exam to determine the cause and to exclude potentially more serious causes, including Sjogren’s syndrome. At Pasha Snoring & Sinus Center, we typically place a small endoscope in the nose to evaluate the structures and lining of the nose. We may also order blood work or perform a biopsy if we’re considering a systemic cause.

Dry nose treatment begins with addressing the cause of the dry nose, such as changing or reducing medications, treating the underlying systemic condition, or quitting smoking.

If a nose is chronically dry, a number of symptomatic remedies may be in order:

Humidity

Using a bedside humidifier can significantly improve dry nose by enabling you to inhale moisturized air. Dr. Pasha recommends warm humidification as dry nose is often associated with colder air.

Saline (salt water) nasal sprays

You can use over-the-counter saline nasal sprays as often as you like to keep the nose moist. Saline nasal sprays have few side effects since they contain no medication.

Petroleum ointments and other moisturizers

Petroleum-based ointments placed under and around the nose may be considered to help with associated dry skin. Moisturizers around the skin can also be beneficial with perinasal skin.

Hydration

Drinking plenty of water may help dry nose if you are behind in fluids.

Avoid picking your nose

You may be manipulating or rubbing your nose to a point where it can irritate the lining of the nose.

Steam

A warm shower, bath, or steam room can temporarily provide relief from nasal dryness, especially in dry climates.

[Related: How to Relieve a Dry Nose]

Nasal Dryness FAQs

What Complications Can Occur From Having a Dry Nose?

For the most part, a dry nose is simply temporarily irritating.

However, if left untreated over a period of time, a dry nose can lead to increased upper respiratory infections such as laryngitis, pharyngitis, or sinusitis. The dry nasal mucosa (the lining of the nose) can also cause recurrent bleeding. Finally, since breathing is compromised, you may develop poor sleep and more difficulty with oxygen exchange, especially with exercise and exertion.

How Do Allergies Affect a Dry Nose?

Typically, allergens such as dust and pollen cause the opposite of a dry nose — a draining, wet nose. However, allergy medications such as antihistamines and nasal sprays can cause a dry nose especially if overprescribed.

Can a Dry Nose Be Dangerous?

For the most part, no. Rare and more serious conditions such as Wegener’s Granulomatosis may present with a persistent dry nose, but this can be ruled out with a comprehensive physical exam.

Take Control of Your Nasal Dryness Today

Don’t let nasal dryness continue to affect your quality of life — make an appointment with Dr. Pasha today to determine the cause of your dry nose and find a solution.

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