Dry nose – causes, treatment

Dry nose

The term dry nose does not stand for an independent disease, but is a symptom that can indicate different diseases. The causes often lie in infections, so that other complaints are usually added. Treating a dry nose is uncomplicated in most cases.

What is a dry nose?

A dry nose is also known by medical professionals under the terms rhinitis sicca or atrophic rhinopathy. All designations stand for the drying out of the nasal mucosa, which leads to an unpleasant feeling in the nose.

The symptoms are usually accompanied by other symptoms such as itching or burning , difficult nasal breathing, a deterioration in the ability to smell or even nosebleeds . In mild cases, the symptoms subside after a few days, even if left untreated, or can be treated quickly with home remedies.

Spontaneously occurring feelings of dryness often disappear on their own after just a few hours. If the symptoms persist over a longer period of time and/or worsen, a doctor should be consulted to clarify the exact causes.


The cause of a dry nose is often an incipient infection or a cold in the early stages. Before it comes to a blocked nose and a real cold , the infection becomes noticeable through a dry mucous membrane in the nose.

Too dry room air, for example due to heating in the winter months, also causes the nasal and oral mucosa to dry out in many people. Direct inhalation of dust will also temporarily cause a dry nose.

People who suffer from allergies , in addition to the allergic cold and swelling of the mucous membranes, also feel an unpleasant drying out inside the nose. If certain medications are taken, the symptoms can occur as side effects. High blood pressure can sometimes cause the nasal mucosa to dry out .

Diagnosis & History

The patient usually diagnoses a dry nose himself, because he finds the unusually dry mucous membrane unpleasant. If he then consults a doctor, he will first have a detailed discussion with the person concerned in order to determine the cause.

A precise examination of the nasal mucosa and, if necessary, the taking of a mucous membrane sample and a blood test usually provide quick information about the reasons for the symptoms. A dry nose does not always require medical treatment. The symptoms often disappear on their own after a short time.

However, if the symptoms are very severe and accompanied by bleeding and pain, a doctor should be consulted, otherwise the dry nose can also become chronic. A stubborn infestation with bacteria is also conceivable as a result of non-treatment.


If the dry nose is due to external stimuli, such as prolonged stays in heavily heated and poorly ventilated rooms, the problem will disappear on its own as soon as the patient avoids such situations. If this is not possible, the entire ear, nose and throat area can dry out very quickly, which promotes the implantation of pathogens. If left untreated, a dry nose can lead to serious infectious diseases.

A number of complications can also occur with dry rhinitis, i.e. a form of inflammation of the nasal mucosa in which the production of nasal secretions is significantly reduced. In addition to the initial symptoms such as sneezing, severe itching and burning and the feeling that the nose is constantly blocked, other disorders appear. Loud blowing or sneezing can damage the nasal mucosa.

As a result, nosebleeds occur. The resulting tears in the nasal mucosa can also hurt and become inflamed. There is often a strong formation of bark and crusts, which the patient perceives as a foreign body in the nose. It also makes it difficult to breathe through your nose. If the rhinitis persists for a longer period of time, it can cause tissue atrophy in the nasal mucosa.

When should you go to the doctor?

The time to see a doctor is when the dryness in the nose persists for a long time and/or is already causing the first symptoms. During the heating season, it can happen quite often that the nasal mucosa is very dry inside. A nose full of fresh air is usually enough and a runny nose develops, which compensates for this.

If the condition improves in a well-ventilated room, everything is probably fine. However, if the dry nose persists even after fresh air or leads to regular (slight) nosebleeds, the cause should be clarified by a doctor. The lining of the nose may have been dry for so long that it has trouble recovering on its own. In these cases, the doctor will prescribe a nasal cream that will end the condition.

Since dry nasal mucosa also causes nosebleeds, the doctor can also rule out more serious diseases during the examination. It is sometimes not easy for those affected to recognize whether the problem is really only related to the nasal mucosa. Nosebleeds could also be a signal for diseases of the paranasal sinuses and the brain, which a layman cannot diagnose. Such conditions are fortunately rare, but when they cause symptoms, they need to be treated very quickly.

Treatment & Therapy

If the dry nose only occurs for a short time or at the beginning of a mild cold , it does not necessarily have to be treated. However, it can help to moisten the nasal mucosa with seawater nasal spray and thus support the healing process.

Rinsing the nose with salt water or a steam bath with hot water also have a soothing and at the same time preventive effect, as does careful treatment of the inside of the nose with almond or sesame oil. If the room air is permanently too dry, it is advisable to increase the humidity in order to alleviate the symptoms. Adequate fluid intake helps to keep the mucous membranes moist and to form a defense against infections.

If the dry nose is accompanied by swelling of the mucous membranes, a doctor can prescribe nasal sprays that quickly reduce swelling. However, these should never be taken for too long, otherwise the nasal mucosa can dry out permanently. The doctor can also specifically treat other cold symptoms that can occur together with a dry nose. If the symptoms are caused by an allergy, the allergy trigger should be identified and avoided in the future. Acute symptoms can be alleviated with suitable medication.

High blood pressure is potentially dangerous for the entire organism and urgently requires medical treatment. Here it is mostly blood pressure-transmitting agents that are used. A change in lifestyle is also advisable, as blood pressure can usually be permanently reduced through a healthy lifestyle.


A dry nose can be prevented to a certain extent by a healthy lifestyle, sufficient fluid intake and room air that is not too dry. Especially in the cold season, prophylactic nasal douches and the use of seawater nasal spray can prevent the mucous membranes from drying out. Inhaling large amounts of dust should be avoided if possible, as should contact with individual allergy-causing materials and substances.

There are many gentle home remedies available in pharmacies that are suitable for preventing and treating a dry nose. If the symptoms do not go away on their own, a doctor should be consulted in case of doubt.

You can do that yourself

Those affected have the opportunity to counteract the suffering caused by a dry nose by using common home remedies. Adequate fluid intake is essential for recovery. In addition, the room air should be kept at an optimal humidity level of between 50 and 60 percent.

Regular ventilation of the room with wide open windows is also recommended. Refreshing the air you breathe can also be useful right before you go to sleep. The use of an air humidifier supports the air conditioning within the living area. A bowl of water or a wet towel on a warm heater is sufficient as a cheap alternative. In this way, water vapor can escape directly into the environment for hours. Water-rich plants for indoor areas of the apartment also make a valuable contribution to maintaining a healthy indoor climate.

Alternatively, a long walk helps in rainy weather. Inhaling vapors from a saline solution clears the airways and stimulates the formation of nasal secretions. Corresponding cold creams for inhalation at home achieve a similar effect. In general, people with a dry nose should avoid cold winter air and should not blow their nose excessively. In the case of a very long-lasting cold, doing without nasal sprays against colds and swelling is a sensible countermeasure. These promote permanent dryness in the nose if used too intensively.

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Hello! I am Lisa Newlon, and I am a medical writer and researcher with over 10 years of experience in the healthcare industry. I have a Master’s degree in Medicine, and my deep understanding of medical terminology, practices, and procedures has made me a trusted source of information in the medical world.