Nasal Pruritis: What Does It Mean When Your Nose Itches?

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Several health conditions can cause nasal pruritus (itching inside your nose). Most of these conditions cause inflammation or irritation. They include allergic rhinitis, food allergies, sinusitis, and nasal polyps.

Itching is often associated with the immune response and the release of immune system proteins and compounds, including histamine. This article will cover potential causes of nasal pruritus, as well as how to get a proper diagnosis, prevention methods, and treatment.

Person on couch feeling nasal itchiness, touching nose

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Causes of an Itchy Nose

Seasonal Allergic Rhinitis

Seasonal allergic rhinitis is often called hay fever. A pollen allergy typically causes it, but it can also be caused by mold spores or other allergens (substances that trigger an allergic reaction). Allergic rhinitis affects 20%–30% of adults in the United States and a larger percentage of children.

Symptoms of seasonal allergic reaction include nasal pruritis, congestion, sneezing, runny nose, sore throat, fatigue, coughing, and wheezing. Antihistamines such as Zyrtec (cetirizine), Allegra (fexofenadine), and Clarinex (desloratadine) are often used to treat this condition.

Perennial Allergic Rhinitis

Perennial allergic rhinitis is very similar to seasonal allergic rhinitis. It causes the same symptoms and is treated similarly, but symptoms are present year-round. This condition may be caused by an allergy to pet dander, dust mites, cockroaches, or mold or pollens that tend to be present in your environment all year.

Risk Factors for Allergic Rhinitis

Risk factors for allergic rhinitis may include a family history of allergic conditions, a history of asthma or eczema, or environmental factors such as living in an environment high in certain allergens such as pollen, animals, or cigarette smoke.

Environmental Irritants

Environmental irritants may be anything you inhale, including cigarette smoke, industrial chemicals, or dry air.

Fungus Exposure

Allergic fungal sinusitis is a condition closely associated with allergic rhinitis and nasal polyps. Individuals with this condition experience inflammation of the nasal mucosa (lining) when exposed to fungi, which may subsequently cause nasal itching.

This allergic reaction also causes thick, sticky mucus that can block the sinus passageways and lead to a fungal sinus infection.

Food Allergies

If you are allergic to a food, you may start to experience itching of the mouth, nose, eyes, or skin within minutes to two hours of eating that food.

What Is Anaphylaxis?

Anaphylaxis is a serious and life-threatening allergic reaction. Initial symptoms may include itching of the mouth, nose, or face, hives, or a rash.

It may progress to swelling of the lips, tongue, and airway, difficulty breathing (wheezing), chest tightness, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, a feeling of impending doom, and a dangerous drop in blood pressure.

If you suspect anaphylaxis, call 911 or go to an emergency room.

CPAP Machine for Sleep Apnea

In sleep apnea, a person stops breathing repeatedly during sleep. A continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine is used to keep the airways open in people with this condition. A mask through which air at a continuous pressure flows is worn over the nose, mouth, or both.

Itching of the nose may occur due to an ill-fitting or irritating mask or because the positive air pressure dries out the nose and mouth.

Sinusitis and Nasal Polyps

"Sinusitis" is a term that refers to inflammation of the sinuses. It can be caused by infections, allergens, or growths. Nasal polyps are benign (noncancerous) growths that occur inside the nasal passageways and sinuses. They usually occur when chronic inflammation is present.

Nasal polyps can prevent proper drainage of the sinuses and contribute to sinusitis. Many people with sinusitis and nasal polyps also have allergic rhinitis.

Risk Factors for Nasal Polyps

Risk factors for nasal polyps include allergic rhinitis, cystic fibrosis, asthma, sinusitis, and aspirin allergies.


Viruses that cause runny nose, congestion, sneezing and other nasal symptoms can also cause inflammation and nasal pruritis.


Many people who experience migraine headaches also have allergic rhinitis, a symptom of which is nasal itching. An individual with hay fever and migraine typically experiences more headaches than someone with migraine alone. Approximately 34% of people with hay fever also get migraines.

Nasal Tumors

Tumors are benign or malignant (cancerous) growths. Tumors in the nasal cavity or sinuses are extremely rare. Symptoms may include, congestion, pain in the forehead, face, eyes, or around the ears, ear infections, frequent nosebleeds, loss of sense of smell and taste, and hearing loss.

When to Call a Healthcare Provider

Some conditions that cause nasal itching will subside on their own within a few weeks, for example, a respiratory virus or an extremely dry nasal passageway. However, if you have worsening symptoms or the itching persists, you should see a healthcare provider for a diagnosis.


Conditions that cause nasal itching are best diagnosed by a physician who specializes in disorders of the ear, nose, and throat, called an otolaryngologist or ENT. However, they may be diagnosed by other healthcare providers, such as an allergist.

Your healthcare provider will ask you about your symptoms and health history before giving you a physical exam, which will involve looking into your ears, nose, and throat. Sometimes medical imaging may be necessary to confirm a diagnosis, such as a computed tomography (CT) scan, depending on what your healthcare provider suspects.

If an underlying allergic condition is suspected, allergy testing such as skin scratch testing or blood tests may be used to confirm this and identify which substances trigger the allergy.


Treatment is tailored to the underlying condition causing your itchy nose. For example:

  • Antihistamines may be used for allergic conditions.
  • Surgery may be necessary to remove nasal polyps or tumors.
  • Mask adjustments may be needed to your CPAP.
  • You may need to avoid certain chemical irritants or wear a special respirator mask around them.

A healthcare provider may recommend remedies for dry nasal passages, which can exacerbate nasal itchiness. These may include a neti pot (nasal irrigator), a cool-mist humidifier, or nasal saline spray.

Tips to Prevent an Itchy Nose

To prevent nasal pruritis, the following measures may be taken:

  • Identify and avoid substances to which you are allergic.
  • Talk to your healthcare provider about medications that may help, including antihistamines, nasal decongestants, and steroid nasal sprays. Take recommended and prescribed medications on time and as directed.
  • Reduce your risk of respiratory infections by avoiding individuals who you know are sick, by washing your hands, and by keeping your immune system as strong as possible by getting enough sleep, reducing stress, eating a healthy diet, and getting enough exercise.
  • Drink plenty of water. Use a cool mist humidifier, saline spray, or neti pot if recommended by your healthcare provider.
  • Wear an adequate respiratory mask such as an N95 when working around industrial chemicals.
  • Avoid cigarette smoke.
  • Find a comfortable CPAP mask you can wear all night. Do not stop wearing your CPAP just because you suspect it is causing nasal itching.


Common causes of nasal pruritis include allergies, infections, respiratory irritants, nasal polyps, and, rarely, tumors. Discuss your symptoms with your healthcare provider if they persist. You may need to see an ear, nose, and throat specialist to identify the underlying cause of your itching. Once the cause has been identified, steps can be taken to control nasal pruritis.

A Word From Verywell

Nasal pruritis is a common annoyance related to a number of underlying conditions. Some causes are treated at home and may pass on their own in a matter of weeks. Others may require ongoing medication or even surgery. Work with a healthcare provider to adequately manage underlying conditions.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can a dry nose cause itchiness?

    A dry nose can cause an itchy nose or make an already itchy nose worse. You can combat this by drinking a lot of fluids and using a cool mist humidifier or saline nasal spray. In some cases, your healthcare provider may also recommend using a neti pot.

  • Does an itchy nose go away by itself?

    In some cases an itchy nose may go away on its own depending on the underlying cause. For example, if the underlying cause is a viral infection, this will typically clear up on its own within a matter of weeks.

  • What happens if you don’t treat nasal pruritis?

    This depends on the underlying cause of nasal pruritis. In some cases, such as allergic rhinitis, not treating the condition could lead to worsening symptoms, nasal polyps, or sinusitis.

  • Are nasal polyps something to worry about?

    Nasal polyps can be a sign of chronic inflammation and may cause a blockage in the sinuses and nasal passageways which in some cases can lead to serious infections.


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