What to Do for Dry Nose and Sinuses

Having dry nasal and sinus passageways can lead to other problems. These may include feeling stuffed up as you breathe, thick mucus, and frequent bloody noses. It's important to maintain a proper amount of moisture in your nose and sinuses to keep them healthy.

This article explores the causes and symptoms of dry nose and sinuses. It will also explain the fastest ways to unblock and moisten them.

How to Treat Dry Noses and Sinuses

Verywell / Nez Riaz

What Causes Dry Nose and Sinuses?

Mucous membranes, which line the sinuses and keep them moist, make mucus that is supposed to easily flow through the nasal passageways. This moves out debris, including bacteria. However, dry conditions can prevent mucus from flowing freely and may lead to problems.

If you live in a dry area, and/or have certain health conditions, your mucous membranes may be prone to drying out. Health conditions that may lead to dry nose and sinuses include:

  • Sjogren syndrome, a long-term condition that can cause dry eyes, throat, and mouth, as well as joint pain
  • Dehydration, which is when the body loses too much water
  • Allergies, which can occur when the body overreacts to a substance it views as harmful

What Are the Symptoms of Dry Sinuses?

Symptoms of dry nasal and sinus passageways include:

  • Nose and sinus inflammation
  • Congestion, feeling stuffy when you breathe
  • Dry mouth and nose
  • Headache

Inflammation and congestion can lead to a sinus infection, which can be caused by a virus or bacteria.

How Do You Treat Dry Nose and Sinuses?

There are simple things you can do to treat your dry nose and sinuses. However, if your symptoms don't get better, or you think you may have an infection, reach out to your doctor right away.

Increase Your Fluid Intake

Drinking more fluids, specifically water, may help to thin out mucus. This may reduce the stuffed or clogged feeling in your nose and sinuses. It may also be helpful to limit alcohol, which can dehydrate you and dry you out even more.

Try to drink more water during the summertime, when temperatures rise, and when you engage in physical activity. If plain water isn't appealing to you, try adding a lemon to your water, drink flavored water, or try an electrolyte beverage.

Use a Humidifier

Sleeping with a humidifier, a machine that adds moisture to the air, may help:

  • Keep your mucous membranes moist
  • Decrease inflammation inside your nose or sinuses
  • Ease some breathing issues

Most humidifiers need distilled water or frequent cleaning in order to keep bacteria from growing in the system. You can also consider purchasing a more expensive self-cleaning humidifier.

Humidifiers can be added to your heating/cooling system. This is the most expensive option, but it allows you to control the humidity levels in your home year round.

Use Saline Nasal Spray

Saline nasal spray is a saltwater liquid that may be used on a daily basis to reduce congestion and thick mucus. It also keeps your nasal passageways moist. It is usually sold over-the-counter at drug stores or pharmacies.

Try a Neti Pot

A neti pot is a device that looks like a small teapot. It is used for nasal and sinus irrigation. Nasal irrigation flushes out nasal passages, helps remove excess mucus, and thins out thick nasal discharge.

You can buy a neti pot without a prescription at your local pharmacy along with a sinus rinse to use in it. You can also make your own rinse using baking soda, iodine-free salt, and distilled water.


Dry nasal and sinus passageways may be caused by weather that is low in humidity, as well as certain health conditions including allergies and dehydration.

Symptoms of dry nose and sinuses may include congestion, headaches, and inflammation. In addition, your nose and mouth may feel dry, as well as irritated.

Treatment for dry nose and sinuses may include drinking more water and using a saline nasal spray, a neti pot, and/or a humidifier. If you think you have an infection, or your symptoms aren't improving, be sure to reach out to your doctor.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Why does dry air cause nosebleeds?

    Dry air can cause your nasal membranes to dry out, leading to cracking or scabs inside the nasal passages. This can cause a nosebleed, particularly if you blow your nose hard or pick at the inside of your nose.

  • Can you use Vaseline, or petroleum jelly, for nasal dryness?

    You shouldn't use petroleum jelly inside your nose. If it's inhaled, it may cause a lung injury over time. Instead, use water-based products in your nose, including distilled or sterilized water in nasal rinses.

4 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. Arthritis Foundation. Sjögren’s syndrome and your body.

  3. Rabago D, Zgierska A. Saline nasal irrigation for upper respiratory conditions. Am Fam Physician. 2009;80(10):1117-9.

  4. Kilaru H, Prasad S, Radha S, Nallagonda R, Kilaru SC, Nandury EC. Nasal application of petrolatum ointment - a silent cause of exogenous lipoid pneumonia: successfully treated with prednisoloneRespiratory Medicine Case Reports. 2017;22:98-100. doi:10.1016/j.rmcr.2017.07.003

By Kristin Hayes, RN
Kristin Hayes, RN, is a registered nurse specializing in ear, nose, and throat disorders for both adults and children.