Is a Nose Burning Sensation a Sign of COVID-19?

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A burning sensation in the nose can feel different to different people. Some may experience the feeling of heat in the nose, while others may develop a sharp or prickly type of pain. The sensation arises because of irritation to the nose and nasal passages, often due to allergies.

In some cases, nose burning can develop because of an infection, such as COVID-19, or a simple cold. Read on to find out more about nose burning, its causes, and what you can do to relieve the symptom.

Fatigued woman pinching nose from illness

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Nose Burning and COVID-19

COVID-19 is a respiratory disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus. It is highly contagious and can lead to mild to severe symptoms that affect the respiratory tract.

COVID-19 has been shown to cause various symptoms, including ones that affect the upper respiratory tract, including the nose, nasal cavity, and throat.

The clinical evidence surrounding the nose burning sensation in people with COVID-19 is limited, and it’s unclear whether or not the viral infection can cause the sensation to develop. However, there have been cases of COVID that developed alongside sinusitis, which is a sinus infection that can cause burning in the nose.

Nasal Symptoms Associated With COVID-19

Symptoms that affect the nose in people with COVID-19 include:

  • Nasal congestion
  • Nasal obstruction
  • Sneezing
  • Loss of smell
  • Runny nose

What to Do

If you are experiencing a burning sensation in your nose without any other symptoms, it’s unlikely that you have COVID-19, because it is not one of the common symptoms. However, if your nose burning is accompanied by any other symptoms of COVID-19, you should get tested as soon as possible.

If You Have COVID-19 Symptoms

Aside from getting tested for COVID-19, you should also stay home, isolate yourself from any other members of your household, and get plenty of rest. If the symptoms worsen, call your healthcare provider for directions on what to do next. If you are experiencing an emergency, call 911 immediately. COVID-19 can be life-threatening.

Nose Burning and Allergies

Allergies are very common, affecting as many as 10%-30% of people globally. They develop when a person’s immune system reacts to something harmless, such as pollen or dust, as if it were a potentially harmful pathogen.

A burning sensation in the nose is a common symptom of allergies, and is often accompanied by itchy nose, burning in the eyes, itchy and watery eyes, and sneezing.

Treatment

Treating allergies is done using antihistamines, which are medications specifically designed to curb the reaction of the immune system to the non-threatening substance. Allergy medications can be purchased over-the-counter. Allergies can also be treated with nasal steroids.

In some cases, avoiding contact with the allergen can relieve symptoms. Another type of treatment, known as allergy immunotherapy, can be used. It involves exposure to the allergy in smaller amounts until the immune system gets used to the allergen and no longer reacts to it.

Other Causes

Several other things can lead to someone experiencing a burning sensation in their nose.

Cold

The common cold is a type of viral infection that most people have experienced. Adults develop roughly two to three colds every single year.

Aside from a burning sensation in the nose, other symptoms of a cold include:

  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Cough
  • Headaches
  • Body aches

Children and Colds

Children are more susceptible to colds. When they get a cold, they are more likely to experience certain symptoms that aren’t always present in adults, such as fever and swollen lymph nodes.

Sinusitis

Sinusitis is an infection that affects the sinuses. The sinuses are four pairs of spaces in the head designed to produce a type of mucus that keeps the inside of the nose moisturized and protected against micro-organisms, dirt, and other pollutants or pathogens. Sinusitis can develop because of a fungus, bacteria, virus, or even allergies.

Symptoms besides a burning nose that arise in people with sinusitis include:

  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Headaches
  • Pain or pressure in the forehead or cheeks
  • Sore throat
  • Cough
  • Mucus dripping down into the throat, also known as postnasal drip
  • Bad breath

When to See Your Healthcare Provider

If your symptoms continue to worsen, become severe in nature, or last for longer than 10 days, you should see your healthcare provider. They will determine the cause of the burning sensation in your nose and the proper course of treatment.

Flu

The flu is another common infection that affects the respiratory tract. While most cases are mild, some people could develop more severe symptoms from a flu infection.

Besides nose burning, you may experience other symptoms of the flu, such as:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Confusion
  • Dry cough
  • Sore throat
  • Nasal congestion
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Body aches

Severe Cases of Flu

Some severe cases of the flu can cause serious complications or death. Typically, people in high-risk groups are more likely to develop a severe case of the flu, such as those aged 65 and older, people with underlying health conditions, and those with a weakened immune function.

Treatment

Treatment for nose burning will depend on the underlying cause.

For example, if a bacterial infection leads to the symptom, your healthcare provider will likely give you antibiotics. For fungal infections, an antifungal may be provided to aid in ridding the body of the infection. Allergies will be treated using antihistamines or nasal steroids.

If a virus is causing your nose to burn, you may not be given any medical treatment at all. However, there are home remedies you can use to help ease the symptom.

Home Remedies

Some home remedies for nose burning include:

  • Inhaling steam to help clear any congestion buildup
  • Use a saline nasal spray
  • Get a humidifier to help put more moisture back into the air

When to Talk to a Healthcare Provider

You should speak to your healthcare provider if your nose burning is bothering you and you are unsure of the cause. For example, if you know that you have allergies and get the sensation when your allergies act up, you likely don’t need to make an appointment.

However, if the nose burning is new and accompanied by other symptoms that you have not experienced, schedule a time with your healthcare provider to go over your symptoms. While it’s not always a sign of COVID-19, it could be, and it’s better to be tested early to begin taking care of your body to fight off the infection.

Is Nose Burning a Cause for Concern?

A burning sensation in the nose is a sign that inflammation or irritation is happening within the nose. However, just because it alerts you that something is wrong, it’s not always a cause for concern. In most cases, nose burning is due to mild infection or allergies.

Summary

A burning sensation in the nose can be caused by various things, including allergies, a cold, the flu, a sinus infection, or possibly COVID-19. Treatment for nose burning depends on the underlying cause. If you suspect you have COVID-19, get tested as soon as possible.

A Word From Verywell

Feeling a burning sensation in your nose, especially in the COVID-19 era, can be alarming. In many cases, the nose burning isn’t severe and doesn't indicate a serious infection like COVID-19. That being said, it could be a symptom of an infection that requires treatment. Monitor your symptoms, try at-home remedies, and call your healthcare provider for assistance when in doubt.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • When is allergy season?

    Allergy season changes depending on what sets off a person’s allergies. For example, spring is often considered the most common allergy season. However, different pollutants are present in other months, which can cause people with various allergies to experience allergy season for the better part of the year.

  • How long do allergies last?

    Allergies typically last as long as the allergen is prevalent in the air. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, each allergen sticks around in the air for roughly two to three weeks. This varies widely based on geographic region.

  • How long does COVID last?

    COVID-19 and its effects are still being researched as new evidence continues to come to light about its symptoms, duration, and severity. The majority of people with mild COVID recover in about one to two weeks. About 36% of people will experience COVID symptoms between three to six months after infection.

  • How long are you contagious with COVID?

    How long a person is contagious depends on the severity of their infection. For example, people who experience a mild case of COVID-19 are likely only contagious for up to 10 days after their symptoms began. However, those with a more severe case could transmit the infection for up to 20 days.

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