How to Treat a Dry Nose and Sinuses

Easing a dry nose means taking steps to restore moisture in your nose and sinuses when the mucus membranes that line them don't produce enough. Simple home remedies for dry nose, such as using a humidifier or saline nasal spray, can help.

Having dry nasal and sinus passageways can lead to other problems, such as headache and frequent bloody noses. Treating a dry nose and sinuses can help prevent these and other issues, like a sinus infection.

This article explores nine suggestions for how to treat a dry nose. You may have the most success when you use more than one.

If none of these remedies work for you, or you have signs of an upper respiratory infection, see your healthcare provider.

How to Treat Dry Noses and Sinuses

Verywell / Nez Riaz

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.

Inhale Steam

Warm, moist air can help relieve a dry nose. Try taking a hot shower or just sitting in the bathroom with the door closed and the shower running.

You can also boil water and inhale its steam. To do this safely:

  1. Boil water in a large pot on the stove. If you want to transfer it to a bowl, use one that is heat-resistant.
  2. Cover your head with a hand towel.
  3. Put your face directly over the bowl and breathe slowly through your nose.
  4. Finish when the steam has subsided, or replace the boiling water in the bowl and start again.

Try Petroleum Jelly

You can try adding a small amount of petroleum jelly to the inside of your nose but exercise caution.

Usually, petroleum jelly will drain into your stomach in the same way your nasal secretions do, but it is possible small amounts of it may make their way into your lungs. Over time, a buildup of petroleum jelly in the lungs can lead to lung problems such as pneumonia.

If you have lung disease, it's best to avoid using petroleum jelly or any other oil-based product in your nose. If you're not sure if this home remedy is right for you, talk to your healthcare provider.

Apply Natural Oils

You can also try natural oils such as coconut oil, sesame oil, and almond oil. Use a cotton swab to apply a small amount of oil to the inside of your nose.

Again, it is always best to speak to your healthcare provider before trying this type of remedy.

Don't Pick Your Nose

This isn't a remedy, per se. But breaking this habit, if you have it, can help reduce the likelihood that your nose will get dry or irritated—or worse than it already is.

Nose picking can also introduce viruses and bacteria to your nasal passages, which can cause respiratory illnesses and other problems. 

Avoid Your Triggers

You may notice that your nose becomes dry in certain situations. Some of the most common ones include:

  • Dusty conditions
  • Blowing your nose too often
  • Changes in the weather
  • Higher elevations
  • Air quality problems such as smoke or smog
  • Antihistamine and decongestant overuse
  • Use of air conditioning or heat

If you know what your triggers are, take steps to avoid them, or make sure you are prepared with a humidifier, nasal spray, or another remedy that is effective for you if you know you will be in conditions that trigger a dry nose.

This won't necessarily treat your dry nose if you already have one, but it can help prevent your symptoms from getting more severe.

Summary

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 I make a saline nasal rinse at home?

    Yes. You'll need non-iodized salt, baking soda, and warm water. Make sure the water is distilled or previously boiled. Never used tap water, as it can introduce germs into your nasal/sinus passages.

2 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.
  1. Arthritis Foundation. Sjögren’s syndrome and your body.

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

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