The medical term for a sensation of dryness within the nasal passages is rhinitis sicca. It often results from colds or allergies.
A dry nose is generally harmless. However, if left untreated, it can cause more bothersome symptoms, such as:
The following home remedies can help prevent and relieve symptoms dryness inside the nose.
Using a humidifier
A humid environment helps to keep the nasal passages moist, which relieves nasal congestion and allows the sinuses to drain properly.
Humidifiers can replace the moisture lost due to air conditioning and central heating in homes and offices.
Ideally, a person should clean their humidifier every day to prevent the growth of mold and bacteria, both of which can be harmful to health.
Ideal indoor humidity ranges from 30–50 percent, depending on the room’s temperature.
It is important to note that higher levels of humidity can promote the growth of dust mites and other allergens that may make symptoms worse.
A hygrometer, which is a device that measures relative humidity, can help a person decide if and when to use a humidifier.
People who do not have access to a humidifier can achieve similar results by inhaling the steam from a:
- bowel of hot water
- hot shower or bath
However, the benefits of steam inhalation may only be temporary. To avoid scalding the skin, make sure that the water is not boiling or extremely hot.
Drinking too little water can dry out the body’s tissues, including those within the nasal passages.
In the past, health authorities recommended drinking 8 glasses of water per day.
However, research from 2018 suggests that the best way for a person to stay hydrated is simply to drink whenever they feel thirsty, except when engaging in particularly intensive exercise.
Saline nasal spray
Saline nasal sprays moisten the nasal passages. This helps to improve the flow of mucus and clear out irritants, such as dust, dirt, and pollen before they have a chance to cause inflammation.
Saline nasal sprays are generally mild and are available over the counter at pharmacies. Always read the packaging of these products carefully and be sure to follow the instructions.
Alternatively, a person can make a saline solution at home, using:
- non-iodized salt, which should ideally contain no anti-caking agents or preservatives, as these can irritate the nasal passages
- baking soda
- 8 ounces or 1 cup of distilled water, or the same amount of tap water that has been boiled for 3–5 minutes
- a small fine-mist spray bottle
To make and use the saline solution (for adults):
- Mix 3 tsp of salt with 1 tsp of baking soda and store the mixture in a small airtight container.
- Add 1 tsp of the mixture to the water.
- If using boiled water, allow it to fully cool first.
- Pour the solution into the spray bottle.
- Tilt the head forward, breathe in slowly through the nose, and spray the solution once or twice in each nostril.
Make a new solution and ensure that the spray bottle is clean before each use.
A person can also gently flush the saline solution through the nostrils using a bulb syringe or a device called a neti pot.
This can remove irritants and cleanse the nasal cavity so that it is better able to absorb other medications.
Nasal rinses are available over the counter. Always read the packaging carefully and follow the instructions.
A person can also make a nasal rinse at home:
- Make the saline solution described above.
- Draw the saline solution into the bulb syringe or pour it into the neti pot
- Lean over a sink, looking down into the basin. Tilt the head to the left, with the left cheek parallel to the sink.
- Place the spout of the neti pot or syringe just inside the right nostril.
- Breathing normally through the mouth, gently squeeze or pour about half of the saline solution into the right nostril. The solution should flow out of the other nostril after a few seconds.
- Spit out any solution that drains into the mouth.
- Gently blow the nose to clear out any residue.
- Repeat this process using the opposite nostril.
Be sure to angle the head as described to prevent the solution from running down the back of the throat or into the eyes.
Make a fresh saline solution and make sure the bulb syringe or neti pot is clean before each use.
When to see a doctor
A dry nose often results from blowing the nose too frequently.
Certain medications, such as nasal decongestants and antihistamines, can also cause or worsen dryness.
Rarely, a persistently dry nose can signal a more serious medical condition, such as:
- Sjogren’s syndrome: This immune disorder affects glands that secrete fluids, such as tears and saliva. It causes the eyes and mouth to become dry, and it can also affect the nose and other parts of the body.
- Atrophic rhinitis: This condition causes the lining of the nasal passages to shrink and thick, dry crusts to form inside the nose. Complications can include a loss of smell, nosebleeds, and infections.
If the nose is severely or persistently dry, see a doctor.
It is also a good idea to seek medical attention if a dry nose accompanies symptoms such as pain, frequent nosebleeds, or signs of infection.