Dry nasal passageways can feel uncomfortable and can lead to cracking and bleeding, which can be painful as well as inconvenient to manage. A dry nose is rarely associated with a serious medical condition however consulting your GP to help you identify the underlying cause of the nasal dryness, along with suitable solutions, may be valuable. But first, what can cause a dry nose?
What can cause a dry nose?
Environmental conditions that lack humidity can cause a dry nose; they include:
- Cold climate
- Air conditioning
- Desert climate
- Indoor heating
- Sauna without steam
A dry nose can also be caused by other conditions including:
- Medications, such as nasal decongestants, antihistamines and anticholinergic medication;
- Over-use of nasal sprays and nasal washing;
- Sjogren’s syndrome - an autoimmune disease that affects the mucous membranes. It is characterized by dry eyes and a dry mouth. Healthy tear flow contributes to moisture in the nasal passageways however this condition reduces this healthy tearing thereby reducing this source of nasal moisture thus contributing to nasal dryness.
To help you identify the underlying cause of your dry nose, consider the following questions:
- When did you first notice your nose was dry?
- Do you have any other symptoms?
- Where/when do you experience a dry nose?
- What sort of environment do you live/work in?
- Do you use nasal sprays?
- Do you use nasal washes?
- What medications are you taking?
- Do you take saunas without steam (e.g. far infrared sauna)?
What sort of natural remedies may help alleviate nasal dryness?
In addition to addressing the underlying cause of nasal dryness, natural remedies may also offer relief. The following remedies involve natural oils that can be ingested (eaten) and therefore are safe for internal use within the nasal cavity. There are at least 3 options that you can trial including:
- Coconut oil
- Almond oil.
If you are sensitive to a particular oil you should avoid using that oil; otherwise, where possible, buy a certified organic brand. Good health food stores will stock organic brands of these oils. If you live in the Cairns region, try “The Healthy Hub” (formerly Neil’s Organics) @ 239 McLeod Street (corner James & McLeod Streets), Cairns. You can call in advance to check availability – 4051 5688.
All of these oils should be kept in a cool, dark environment (if not in the fridge) to reduce the likelihood of the oils becoming rancid. If placed in the fridge, these oils will solidify therefore make sure the bottle or container that contains the oil does not have a small neck otherwise you may not be able to (easily) remove oil from the bottle unless the contents have liquefied. Almond oil is often stored in a brown bottle with a small neck! You may simply want to store this oil in a cool, dark cupboard.
- You will need 1/2 teaspoon of your preferred oil (coconut, ghee or almond) and cotton wool tips to apply the oil inside the nasal passageways.
- If the oil has solidified, take a teaspoon (or less) of the solidified oil from the container and place it in a little bowl and sit the bowl in hot water to help liquefy the solid.
- If you want to use the oil when you are out-and-about, you can carry a small vial of oil with you.
- Dip the cotton tip into the oil and apply the oil to the inside of the left and right nostril.
- You can use the other end of the cotton wool tip to remove excess oil.
- If convenient (e.g. if you are at home), placing your head over a bowl of steaming water for 1-2 minutes may help infuse the lining of the nasal passageways with the oil.
These steps can help restore moisture levels to the nasal passageways and can be safely undertaken throughout the day, for example:
- In the morning;
- Before going to bed; and
- Out-and-about (if carrying small vial of oil and cotton wool tips).
What else might help?
Most pharmacies carry a range of non-medicated nasal sprays and oils for nasal dryness. The Fess range of nasal products includes “Dry Nose Oil Spray.” This product is non-medicated and is preservative-free. It contains sesame oil, vitamin E, eucalyptus and menthol. If you are not sensitive to any of these ingredients, using this product may be a convenient, ready-made option for you.
Please note: many respiratory products (including non-medicated nasal sprays) contain preservatives such as "benzoates". Whilst such products may relieve symptoms, benzoates can also hyper-sensitize the airways, making the airways more reactive to irritation. ALWAYS check the label and note whether the product contains preservatives. Where possible, these products are best avoided if you know you have a hyper-responsive airway (an airway that is over-sensitive and over-reactive to stimuli/irritation).