The nose is often the first barrier to stop irritants from being breathed into the airways. Tiny hairs inside the nostrils catch particles, such as dust, dirt, or pollen. These are known as environmental irritants and can cause a tickle in the nose.
Each nostril is lined with a moist membrane that can dry out during periods of illness or hot weather. Common allergies, for example, hayfever, may irritate the nose, too.
Ways to get rid of a tickle in the nose
The following may help get rid of a tickle in the nose:
1. Saltwater nasal spray
If home remedies do not work, a doctor may want to diagnose the cause of a tickly nose in order to treat it correctly.
Using a spray in the nose can help to relieve dryness. A tickling or itching sensation can be caused if the skin lining the nostrils has dried out.
A saltwater nasal spray can be used as an alternative to over-the-counter (OTC) nasal sprays. To make a saltwater nasal spray at home:
- boil 1 pint of water and allow to cool
- stir in 1/4 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda
- pour some of the liquid into a cupped palm
- sniff the solution into one nostril at a time
Another option is to pour the solution into a clean spray bottle. This makes it easy to spray the saltwater solution into the nose to rehydrate the skin.
2. Neti pot
A neti pot is a device used to flush out the nose. The following instructions tell you how to use one:
- fill the neti pot with sterile water from a drugstore or boiled water that has cooled
- tilt the head to one side over a sink or bath
- insert the spout of the neti pot into the uppermost nostril
- tip the neti pot to pour water into the nostril
- water will run out of the lower nostril
If a tickle in the nose is being caused by something inside it, a sinus infection, or dryness, then using a neti pot may relieve the symptoms. Many are available to buy online.
A neti pot can be used once per day until the problem has been resolved.
3. Drink more fluids
Keeping the body hydrated can help to stop the nose drying out if someone has a cold or sinus infection.
The amount of liquid a person should drink varies by age and sex. For adults, drinking around 8 glasses of water per day is a reasonable goal. Drinking enough fluid is important for general health.
Try adding a slice of lemon to a mug of hot water. Breathing in the steam from the hot water through the nose can also help to clear the sinuses.
4. Avoid triggers
Avoiding allergy triggers, such as animal fur, may prevent a tickly nose.
If someone has an allergy, they can help avoid a tickly nose by knowing their triggers.
Some common causes of irritation are:
- animal fur
Working in an office with air-conditioning can cause the nose to dry out.
Being in an environment with small particles, such as dirt or sawdust, can irritate the nose.
Using a face mask if working with irritants can prevent breathing them in from the air.
5. Avoid irritating the nose further
It may be tempting to try to clear a tickle in the nose by blowing or picking it. But this can cause more irritation. Rinsing out the nose is often more effective at relieving the itch.
A tickle in the nose can be caused by the skin inside the nose drying out. This can happen in hot weather or a dry climate.
Humidifiers can be used to add moisture to the air in a room. Pouring water into shallow bowls placed in warm locations around the home will allow the water to evaporate. This is a simple and cheap alternative to a store-bought humidifier.
7. Check for irritants
Sometimes a tickle in the nose is caused by something in the nose, such as dust or dirt. Gently blowing the nose should remove it. Using a neti pot to rinse out the nose can clear the foreign body if blowing does not work.
8. Take medication
It may be necessary to take an antihistamine if a tickle in the nose is caused by an allergy. Medicated nasal sprays can be bought over-the-counter and can help to relieve itching.
Takeaway and when to see a doctor
Advice from a doctor may be helpful if irritation in the nose lasts for a long time.
Allergic rhinitis is a common cause of a persistent tickle in the nose. This is when the delicate skin inside the nose becomes inflamed because of an allergen, such as pollen.
Non-allergic rhinitis is less common and can be more difficult to diagnose. Symptoms include a blocked or a runny nose, less sense of smell, sneezing, and a tickle in the nose.
Treatment for these conditions is usually with medicated nasal sprays, rinsing the nose, and avoiding irritants.