- A dry nose can be caused by using a heater, blowing your nose a lot, smoking, and more.
- To soothe the dry skin on your nose, try using petroleum jelly as a strong moisturizer.
- Also, try to make sure you're drinking enough water and use a cold humidifier or a nasal spray.
- Visit Insider's Health Reference library for more advice.
You may have felt it during cold or allergy season — your nose gets red, dry, and irritated. A dry nose can make breathing harder and wiping your nose uncomfortable, but there are a few methods you can try to help bring moisture back into your nose.
Here are five ways to treat a dry nose and breathe more easily.
What causes dry nose?
The mucus inside of your nose and the skin outside of it can get especially irritated during the winter or if you have a cold. Here are some of the most common causes:
- Blowing your nose a lot: If you have a cold or allergies, you're likely rubbing or blowing your nose often. The friction from this rubbing can damage the skin barrier and irritate your nose, says Joshua Zeichner, MD, a board-certified dermatologist and the director of cosmetic and clinical research at Mount Sinai Hospital.
- Using a heater: "For most people, winter is a time when the heating is running full blast. The heating units dry the air we breathe which makes our noses drier," says Philip Chen, MD, a professor of otolaryngology at the University of Texas.
- Smoking: "Inhaled chemicals like smoking and vaping can result in dry nose," Chen says.
To fight back against these irritating factors, there are a few at-home methods you can use to fight off dry nose.
1. Use a cold humidifier
This increases the level of humidity in the air you breathe, and can help moisten the mucus membrane inside your nose.
"The bedroom or an area one spends a lot of time is a good place to use a humidifier," Chen says.
2. Petroleum jelly
Petroleum jelly is a type of moisturizer known as an occlusive, "which means that it forms a protective seal over the surface of the skin," Zeichner says.
One of the easiest ways for your skin to dry out is the natural evaporation of water from the skin — this leaves your skin dry and more easily irritated.
Using petroleum jelly on or inside your nose "prevents loss of hydration and allows the skin to repair itself," Zeichner says.
3. Inhale steam
Inhaling steam can also help moisten the mucus membrane inside your nose and relieve irritation.
You can inhale steam by following these steps:
1. Put water in a pot and bring it to a boil.
2. Remove the pot from the stove and let it sit for a minute or two — it's important to let the water cool slightly to avoid steam burns.
3. Place a towel over your head so it hangs along the sides of your face.
4. Lean over the pot and breathe through your nose, allowing the steam in.
5. Do this for ten to 15 minutes — you may need to re-boil the water during the process to keep the steam flowing.
6. Repeat this once or twice a day until your symptoms improve.
4. Use a nasal spray
"Saline nasal sprays help hydrate the nose the same way that facial sprays hydrate your skin," Zeichner says.
You can find saline sprays over the counter at most pharmacies — however, you may want to check the label to make sure the spray has only saline. Some types of nasal spray, like steroids, are designed to treat conditions like allergies but may worsen dry nose.
Also, sprays like oxymetazoline are habit forming and are easy to overuse, Chen says, so follow all instructions on the label.
5. Stay hydrated
"Mucus is primarily composed of water. So if one is not well hydrated, the mucus is drier and may not function as well," Chen says.
"Mucus is a protective liquid formed by the body to trap pollen, bacteria, viruses, etc.," Chen says.
Mucus also covers the mucus membrane inside your nose and helps keep the tissue moist. This means that if you don't drink enough water during the day, it can worsen a dry nose.
Men should get about 15.5 cups of water a day and women should get around 11.5.
Having a dry, irritated nose can be uncomfortable, but there are several at-home methods you can use to alleviate your symptoms. Inhaling steam, using a nasal spray, and staying hydrated can all help your nose stay moist and heal.
If you try these methods and your symptoms aren't getting better after a few days, you can also reach out to your doctor to see if you need further treatment.