What causes dry nose?

Many medications produce side effects including dry nose. Common drugs that result in dry nose are antibiotics, antihistamines and decongestants. Overuse or abuse of drugs used to relieve congestion, especially nasal sprays, will dry the nose.

Environmental conditions with low humidity also result in dry nose. Extreme heat or arid conditions do not provide adequate relative humidity for the nasal passages, and they become dry. Dryness in the nasal passages is unhealthy for the entire respiratory system, as the nose is the main humidifier of inhaled air that travels to the lungs. The mucous membranes that line the respiratory system require humidity to work properly, as does saliva in its role as a mouth cleanser.

Sjogren’s syndrome is an autoimmune disorder that attacks the mucus and moisture-producing glands of the body. It is characterized by dry eyes and mouth, but individuals who have this syndrome may also experience dry nose.

Common causes of dry nose

Environmental conditions that lack humidity commonly cause dry nose and include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Desert climate
  • Indoor heating (forced air or radiant delivery)
  • Sauna without steam

Other causes of dry nose

Dry nose can also be caused by other conditions including:

  • Medications, such as decongestants, antihistamines and anticholinergics
  • Misuse of nasal sprays
  • Sjogren’s syndrome

Serious or life-threatening causes of dry nose

In some cases, dry nose may be a symptom of a serious or life-threatening condition that should be immediately evaluated in an emergency setting. These conditions include severe infections of the respiratory system.

Questions for diagnosing the cause of dry nose

To diagnose your condition, your doctor or licensed health care practitioner will ask you several questions related to your dry nose including:

  • Do you have any other symptoms?
  • Do you use nasal sprays?
  • When did you first notice your nose was dry?
  • When does your nose feel dry?
  • What medications are you taking?
  • Have you been in a different climate recently?
  • Do you have a humidifier in your home?

What are the potential complications of dry nose?

Because dry nose can be due to serious diseases, failure to seek treatment can result in serious complications and permanent damage. Once the underlying cause is diagnosed, it is important for you to follow the treatment plan that you and your health care professional design specifically for you to reduce the risk of potential complications including:

  • Laryngitis
  • Pharyngitis
  • Poor quality sleep
  • Recurrent bleeding
  • Sinusitis
  • Spread of infection


  1. NINDS Sjögren’s syndrome information page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/sjogrens/sjogrens.htm.
  2. Allergic rhinitis. FamilyDoctor.org. http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/diseases-conditions/allergic-rhinitis.html.
  3. Chandra RK, Patadia MO, Raviv J. Diagnosis of nasal airway obstruction. Otolaryngol Clin North Am 2009; 42:207.

What is dry nose?

Dryness of the nose is a common symptom of certain adverse environmental conditions and can also be a side effect of medications. The nose requires a certain level of humidity to work properly, and extremely hot or dry conditions can result in dry nose. Hot, dry climates, low humidity, and air conditioning can all lead to dryness in the nose.

Dry nose is a common effect of certain... Read more about dry noseintroduction


What other symptoms might occur with dry nose?

Dry nose may accompany other symptoms, which will vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition. Conditions that frequently affect the nose may also involve other body systems.

Nasal symptoms that may occur along with dry nose

Dry nose may accompany other symptoms affecting the nose including:

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Annual Review Date: Aug 9, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Ear, Nose and Throat

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