How to Pamper Your Allergic Nose

Is your sniffer working overtime because of a cold or allergies? It can feel uncomfortable when you use all those tissues.

Use these expert tricks to soothe a chapped, sore nose fast.

1. Pick the Right Tissue

You may think pre-moistened wipes are gentler than plain-old tissue, but many diaper wipes or those made for removing makeup contain fragrance, detergents, or other chemicals that may further irritate cracked, dry skin, says Neil Schachter, MD, author of The Good Doctor’s Guide to Colds & Flu.

Use soft tissue or toilet paper instead. Those with aloe may feel especially gentle.

2. Pat, Don’t Wipe

When you do blow your nose, pat your nostrils and the skin around your nose dry instead of rubbing or wiping, says New York dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, MD.

When you pat, you get less friction and skin irritation than if you rub. That saves you some pain later.

3. Moisturize Multiple Times a Day

Several times a day -- after every blow, even -- dab a small amount of a gentle petrolatum-based product around your nostrils and onto any irritated patches of skin around your nose.

“Ointments are more helpful than creams or lotions, because they form a waterproof seal that lets the skin underneath heal itself,” Zeichner says.

4. Watch for an Infection

If you have deep skin cracks around the nose that don’t seem to heal, or if they become covered with a yellowish or honey-colored crust, you may have a skin infection.

If you think that’s the case, dab on a small amount of antibiotic ointment to the area three times a day, Zeichner says. It will moisturize and fight germs at the same time.

5. Flush More So You Can Blow Less

Rinse your nasal passages with a gentle saline (salt water) solution twice a day, morning and night, Schachter says. This will ease your congestion and rinse mucus out of your nasal passages without you having to blow your nose.

“Anything that can lower skin friction will keep the nose in better shape,” Zeichner says. (And remember, pat dry afterward -- don’t wipe.)


If you’re super stuffed up during the day, you can add a third nasal wash around midday, Schachter says.

Although instructions are different for nasal-wash squeeze bottles and Neti pots, you can try this general recipe and how-to:

  • Mix 3 heaping tablespoons of iodide-free salt and a rounded teaspoon of baking soda together in a clean baggie or plastic container.
  • Then dissolve 1 teaspoon of this mixture into a cup of lukewarm distilled water. (You can sterilize your own water -- boil it, then let it cool.)
  • Fill a Neti pot or bulb syringe with the solution.
  • Tilt your head down and to the left over a sink while you empty about half the salt water into your right nostril, letting the water come out the other nostril. Switch sides. Breathe normally through your mouth.

6. Talk to Your Doctor Before Using Decongestant Meds

They can help treat a runny nose, so you don’t have to blow it as often. But these pills and sprays can also make the sensitive skin inside your nose feel worse.

“They tighten up blood vessels and lower blood flow to the area, both of which can cause discomfort and irritation,” Schachter says. Talk to your doctor about the risks, benefits, and what’s OK for you.

7. Sip Tea and Hot Soup

The steam that rises from a hot bowl of soup or a cup of tea moisturizes your skin and nasal passages. It can even help loosen up mucus deeper in your nose so that you can more easily blow it out later, Schachter says.

WebMD Feature Reviewed by Luqman Seidu, MD on February 07, 2016



American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology: “Saline Sinus Rinse Recipe.”

Medscape Drugs and Diseases: “Neosporin Original Ointment, Triple Antibiotic Ointment.”

Medscape Medical News: “Use of Saline Nasal Irrigation Reviewed.”

National Health Service (UK): “Decongestant Medication - side effects.”

E. Neil Schachter, MD, medical director of respiratory care, Mount Sinai Medical Center, New York; author, The Good Doctor’s Guide to Colds & Flu, Harper Paperbacks, 2005.

Joshua Zeichner, MD, dermatologist; assistant professor in the dermatology department at Mt Sinai Medical Center in Manhattan.

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