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How To Treat An Itchy Nose: Symptoms, Causes, and Relief

Why Do I Have An Itchy Nose?

Sarah Osborne, APRN Profile Photo

Written by Sarah Osborne, APRN on July 13, 2021

When you or your child end up with a relentlessly itchy nose, you may be baffled as to what the cause is. The good news is that an itchy nose is, more often than not, caused by something benign and highly treatable, and allergies or the common cold are two very common causes of this symptom.

It can sometimes be tough to pinpoint the culprit on your own, and this is where your doctor can come in handy. Anytime you cannot seem to figure out what is causing your symptoms, you should consult your doctor and get to the bottom of it so that the cause can be treated before the situation worsens. Both allergies and colds are highly treatable, and colds will typically resolve on their own in a week or so.

That said, let’s get into the basics of why allergies and colds can cause an itchy nose, how you can tell the difference and determine the cause, and what you can do to relieve your discomfort.

Hay Fever: Symptoms and Causes

Hay fever, also referred to as seasonal allergies or allergic rhinitis, happens when your body’s immune system recognizes and overreacts to something in the environment around you.

There are two main types of allergies that people may suffer from:

  • Seasonal allergies: Seasonal allergies happen when your allergy trigger is only prevalent during certain seasons, specifically spring, summer, and early fall. Typical, seasonal allergies are caused by airborne mold spores or to pollen from trees, grass, and weeds.
  • Perennial: People suffering with perennial allergies may experience their allergy symptoms all year, and this type of allergy may be caused by dust mites, pet hair, dander, cockroaches, or mold, as these are all things that remain prevalent regardless of the season. That said, perennial nasal symptoms may also be caused by underlying food allergies.

Common symptoms associated with allergies include:

  • Itchy nose
  • Itchy, watery eyes
  • Itchy throat
  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Stuffy nose
  • Fatigue (often the result of poor sleep quality due to uncomfortable symptoms)

If you believe you are dealing with symptoms caused by allergies, consulting your doctor can get you a definite diagnosis, or your doctor will be able to refer you to an allergy specialist.

There are a few things you can do right at home to help ease your symptoms, and these include:

  • Keeping your windows and doors closed when the pollen count is high if you know that this is one of your allergy triggers
  • Using air conditioning in the house and in your car
  • Wearing glasses or sunglasses when you are outside to keep pollen from getting into your eyes
  • If you believe your allergy symptoms are caused by dust mites, mite-proof bedding may be a good way to limit your exposure
  • Using a dehumidifier may help reduce any mold around your living space
  • Washing your hands after handling animals, or handling animals only outside or in a well-ventilated area, may help reduce symptoms associated with pet fur or dander

How To Know If It Is A Cold, Or Just Allergies

Aside from allergies, it is also possible for the common cold to cause an itchy nose, and it can sometimes be tough to tell the difference between allergies and a cold.

Colds and allergies can share plenty of symptoms, making it hard to determine which one may be causing your symptoms.

There are a few key differences between colds and allergies that may help you more easily recognize what is causing your symptoms:

  • Duration of symptoms: In most cases, a case of the common cold will last from 5-7 days, but symptoms caused by allergies can last for as long as you are exposed to your allergy triggers.
  • Onset of symptoms: If you have contracted a cold virus, symptoms may take up to three days to appear, but symptoms associated with allergies can start as soon as you come into contact with an allergy trigger.

Even more, there are a few symptoms that will differ slightly between allergies and colds, and though the differences are minor, they may be enough for you to be able to make a determination.

For one thing, allergies generally do not cause body aches or a fever, whereas the common cold can sometimes cause these kinds of symptoms, but the fever associated with a cold will likely be low-grade.

The most common symptoms experienced by people struggling with allergies are itchy eyes, clear nasal mucus that does not turn yellow or green, and symptoms that are specifically triggered by changes in season and appearance of certain triggers.

Something to hone in on when it comes to allergies is that many of the most common allergy symptoms entail some form of itchiness, like itchy eyes, an itchy nose or throat, or even itching skin depending on what allergens you are sensitive to.

In cases of cold virus infections, the most common symptoms of a cold that are less common in terms of allergies include a cough, sore throat, thick and yellow nasal mucus, and winter-time or otherwise cold weather onset.

Additionally, unlike allergies, colds can sometimes come along with body aches and fevers. Thus, if you spike a fever alongside your itchy nose, you may be dealing with a cold.

Another way to know if your symptoms are caused by allergies or a cold is to try antihistamines, because cold symptoms typically do not respond to antihistamines whereas allergies do. That said, you should only take antihistamines if you very much suspect that the cause is allergies, as it is not a good idea to pre-emptively take medicine.

Treating Your Itchy Nose

Treating your itchy nose and any other symptoms you may be experiencing will largely depend on what is causing it, so it is important to figure out whether the cause is allergies, a cold, or something else altogether.

Anytime you have trouble getting to the bottom of it on your own, you should consult your doctor to find the culprit so that you can start a treatment plan.

If you have consulted your doctor and you know that your symptoms are being caused by allergies, there are plenty of OTC allergy medicines available that may help reduce your symptoms. If your child is the one struggling with these symptoms, you may want to look for allergy products intended for use by children, because these sometimes are available with more kid-friendly formulas and flavors, or may be slightly less strong than adult formulations but still effective.

On the other hand, if your symptoms are being caused by a cold, you can opt for OTC cold remedies aimed at addressing the most common symptoms of a cold, like an itchy nose, sneezing, runny or stuffy nose, and cough. OTC cough and cold medications are not recommended in children under 4, and are typically not helpful in children under 8 years of age.

OTC medicines are generally safe when you use them properly and carefully read the instructions on the drug facts label, but it is still important to consult your doctor before trying any new medicines or remedies, as your doctor can alert you to potential side effects, drug interactions, or any other necessary precautions.

Your doctor also knows a lot about your medical history, which can also be helpful because they can inform you if there is anything you need to worry about in regards to using a new medicine, especially if you are dealing with any health issues aside from the symptoms you are looking to treat.

If you are dealing with a cold, your symptoms should start to resolve in around a week, but if your symptoms do not improve at all or seem to worsen, this is a sign that you should get back in touch with your doctor to make sure that everything is okay.

The Bottom Line

An itchy nose can be a very annoying symptom to deal with, but it is almost always caused by something highly treatable and benign. In fact, allergies and the common cold are the two most common causes of an itchy nose, and both of these culprits can easily be managed at home or with some OTC medicine.

If you are dealing with allergies, your doctor may recommend trying an OTC allergy medicine containing antihistamines. These medications can relieve the itchy and uncomfortable symptoms associated with seasonal allergies.

If you are dealing with cold symptoms, your symptoms should resolve in about a week, but you can ease them in the meantime by getting plenty of rest and using an OTC cold medication if needed.

If your symptoms do not respond to medicine, regardless of whether they are caused by allergies or a cold, you should consult your doctor for next steps because they will be able to recommend alternative products to you, and they can also make sure nothing more serious is going on.



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