This section highlights popular OTC (Over-the-Counter) products to help your dry nose and nasal passages. I also present my favorite products and tips for our Sjogren’s dry nose. .
I have had a lot of issues with my sinuses and, in fact, sinusitis was the major symptom I experienced years before being diagnosed. For several years, I had recurring sinus infections which lead me to a top ENT at the University of Washington Medical Center. After several trips, we decided to perform surgery to clear the extra cartilage in my sinus cavity and make room for my sinuses to release congestion. When this didn’t work, we did it again, and he was more aggressive with the clearing. I improved some, but not totally. This is when he sent me to an allergist to find underlying issues. The allergist sent me off with bloodwork orders and…I never did the labs! Now I don’t know what labs he listed, but I do recall he was looking for some inflammatory issues. But I didn’t get the bloodwork done because I was too busy with my company and the sinus surgeries did improve my sinusitis a bit. I thought I was fine.
Looking back, I know that I might have been diagnosed five years earlier than I was. I may have been able to spare myself from Aseptic Meningitis and a long recovery. This is why I am now a pretty ‘good’ patient when my doctors recommend or request action from me. This is also why I stay on top of my nasal passages; it is one of the weakest points on my body and if ignored, will act up with a sinus infection. Sinus infections are not uncommon for Sjogren’s patients. I know I have some compadres out there who have experienced the same issues.
So let’s get into some products that can help us out and keep our nasal passages moist. The sections below are to help guide you to some product options. These are not recommendations for the treatment of a medical issue. These are products and ideas that have worked for me and have been recommended to me. There are also a couple of new products that I’ve come across. If you have a serious sinus concern, please do call an ENT (Ear Nose Throat specialist).
Products to Clear Nasal Passages
One of my best tools for clearing sinuses and keeping a moist sinus cavity is to use a Neti Pot. The use of a Neti Pot is an ancient Ayurvedic practice that gets a thumbs up from both Western and Eastern medicine practitioners.
The process to clear sinuses is very simple. First, place a small amount (4-8ounces) of distilled water in a hand-held vessel with a mix of salt and bicarbonate of soda to create a balanced saline solution. A general recipe is to combine 3 teaspoons of salt with 1 teaspoon of soda and then use 1 teaspoon of this mixture for every 8 ounces of lukewarm water. Place the solution into a Neti Pot and tip your head to the left while you place the Neti Pot nozzle in your right nostril. The water (and mucous) will drip out the other nostril. Once you clear that sinus cavity, tilt your head to the right and place the nozzle in your left nostril to clear the second sinus passage. Be sure to do all of this over the bathroom sink! Once completed, you can blow your nose of extra water and feel so much better! I use this process to keep my nasal passages moist in winter, to clear everything when I have a cold, and to clean out pollen from seasonal allergies.
There are so many different products on the market to help you clear your nasal passages such as Waterpik attachments, a larger system called Navage, and a multitude of plastic squirt bottles. I have tried several (but not Waterpik or Navage) and believe that a ceramic Neti Pot with pre-packaged salt/soda is easiest and best. However, a plastic squirt bottle is great for traveling! One of my favorite companies for nasal care is NeilMed and I first purchased their Sinus Rinse with the bottle and saline solution packets in one box. I highly recommend this product as you have everything you need in one box (just add distilled water). You can buy this package of NeilMed Sinus Rinse and then you have your travel plastic bottle. I prefer the ceramic Neti pot because they are easier to clean and dry. The plastic does not thoroughly dry and I get concerned about bacteria. I purchased and love my Ancient Secrets Nasal Clearing Pot . However, when I was looking up this product to share, I saw a ceramic pot built a little differently and with a rubber cap for nostril comfort. It’s called the Comfy Pot at Amazon. This pot looks interesting to me and I’d consider it strongly (if I didn’t have my ceramic pot already).
Once you purchase your Neti Pot, all you need is pre-packed sachets and distilled water. I get the NeilMed Sinus Rinse sachets. However, once I finish up my current box of sachets, I think I will try the XLear Sinus Rinse packet. They have the same saline formula plus a small amount of Xylitol for moisturizing nasal passages. I know Xylitol works for my mouth sicca and I know that the Xlear spray is helpful to me, so these new packets might be an extra moisture boost. Additionally, they have a full 5-star Amazon rating at the time of writing. They are more expensive than NeilMed packets, but it may be worth the price.
My routine for a dry nose is as follows:
- Grab my clean ceramic Neti pot.
- Place a p[e-packaged saline mix into my Neti pot. At this time I use the NeilMed sachets.
- Fill my Neti Pot with distilled water to 3/4 full.
- Put my Neti pot with the solution into the microwave and turn on high for 14 seconds. In my microwave, this is just about the right temperature. You may need a little less or more time.
- Use the Neti Pot to clear each sinus cavity while leaning over the sink. Lean forward and tilt head on each side to allow extra water to fall out. Then blow my nose with a tissue.
- Wash and dry my Neti Pot to keep very clean.
This can be done in the evening and morning if you are very dry. If you have a cold, or if you are needing to clear pollen, you can do this as often as you need to. For my usual routine, I find doing this in the morning, just once a day, keeps everything OK. Another good point is that saline solution is not a medication so I can do this several times a day without concern. When I travel to arid and cold locations, I turn to the Neti Pot several times a day to prevent severe dryness and getting a bloody nose or those hardened “boogs” that are difficult to remove.
If you have a persistent issue, you should see an ENT to determine the best course of action for you. Especially if you get sores in your nose.
Sprays to Keep your Dry Nose Moist
There are many situations when I’m out of the house and need some moisture for my dry nose. I may be on a plane, at a friend’s house and someone’s perfume bothers me, exercising outdoors, or at a restaurant with dry air, when the need for moisture arises. This is when I turn to a saline-based spray. However, I have found a saline-only spray doesn’t moisturize enough for me. There are three products I’ve used that have provided the needed relief for the circumstance. I consider using a particular spray, and carry it with me, depending on how dry my nose has been during a designated amount of time. For example, my dry nose challenge is not significant in the summer. But when I’m in air conditioning, I may need a little support and then I use the Xlear Nasal spray. This is a saline solution with xylitol and that extra ingredient of xylitol does give me a little more relief than just saline mist. You can get Xlear Nasal Spray. If you always have a pretty dry nose, I might skip this product and go straight to the gel sprays.
My dry nose challenges really escalate in the winter, or when visiting desert climates. I then turn to saline gels in a spray. I’ve used both Ayr and NeilMed and like them both. The Ayr Saline Nasal Gel and the NeilMed NasoGel. The product ingredients are similar and both have aloe and glycerin which may help with extra moisturizing as well as thickening the product. The Ayr bottle has 0.75 ounces of product and the NeilMed has 1.0 ounces of product. The NeilMed is about $0.25 per ounce less expensive (at the time of this writing). So look for pricing when you compare these products as they are quite similar.
Sprays for Decongesting Nose
The thought of getting a cold is particularly anxiety-provoking for Sjogren’s patients. And especially so for those of us who know we have a weakness in our bronchial and sinus areas. After years of practice, I can predict that I have about a 60% chance of getting a sinus infection with a cold or flu. Odds are higher if I do not stay on top of a Neti Pot and spray routine to clear my sinuses during the daytime. But at night, I have to pull out the real drugs to get me through until morning. I can’t take the drying oral medication, but I absolutely take and love Afrin. I get the Afrin No Drip Moisturizing Spray to help me out and it’s a huge relief to my sinuses and my mouth. With Afrin, I can sleep with my mouth shut and not add to oral dryness.
While reviewing products for this page, I did see that my favorite “sinus company”, NeilMed also makes a product called SinuFrin with similar ingredients as Afrin. Should I get a cold this season, I will be trying the NeilMed SinuFrin Plus with Moisturizing Gel. It has the same active ingredients as Afrin, but it has additional ingredients of hyaluronic acid and aloe as the moisturizing components. This is a big plus in my book. The NeilMed SinuFrin appears to be a more direct competitor to Afrin. Because I know and trust NeilMed, I am comfortable making this statement before I’ve tried the product. However, I will update this page once I try it!
So look for the NeilMed SinuFrin Plus in the green box for those extra moisturizing ingredients when you also need the medication for decongesting stuffy sinuses.
Gels and Ointments for Dry Nose
In my older blog post about My Daily Survival Kit, I talk about Ayr nasal gel. This product is good because it moistens nasal passages without petroleum products. But it does have a slight odor that makes me sneeze. You can get AYR nasal gel on Amazon. (I know a lot of people love the product and I will use it if I’m out of NeilMed). However, for the past two years, I have been using another NielMed product called NielMed Nasal Gel for Dry Nose. You can get NielMed Nasal Gel for Dry Nose . This product does not have an odor that makes me sneeze and it seems to last a bit longer for me than AYR. It also has a good amount of product in the tube.
In winter, I can get sores and cracks in my nose that need some additional care. For this situation, my ENT suggested I use OTC Bacitracin in my nasal passages and particularly on my affected areas. Be aware that this product does have a petrolatum base, but that does help the medicine stay where you put it. I put the product on a QTip and rub the product on the area of my nose that needs extra attention. Because it is petroleum-based, you want to make sure you use the product sparingly. Don’t place a glop of product in your nasal passage that can get sucked into your lungs. Petroleum in your lungs is NOT GOOD. If you are getting sores in your nose, ask your Doctor if this course of action is appropriate for your situation. Once you ask the first time, then you know your answer when the issue arises again.
You can get this product anywhere at very reasonable prices. A good drugstore brand will likely have the best price. Another product in this category is Polysporin, which has two infection-fighting bacteria-fighting products: Bacitracin and Polymyxin B Sulfate. You can buy this at drugstores as well, but I have found Polysporin .
Products for Chapped Nose
If my nose is runny and in the cold weather, I can get chapped just beneath my nose. If it is looking really red, I might put some Polysporin on it to make sure there is no bacterial infection brewing (especially if the skin has cracked). However, I usually soothe my nose with BurtsBees Honey lip balm. The bit of honey is healing and the beeswax keeps the product in place without any petrolatum. Burts is also my favorite product for lips. I purchase the 4-pack of Burts Bees Honey Lip Balm and I reserve one (or two) for use on my nose. The others are for my lips. I like to keep them separate because, well, ick.
While I was grabbing the Burts Bees information, a new product popped up called InstaCure that was created specifically for the nose. The product is made with Manuka Honey, shea butter, coconut oil, and Aloe. These are all wonderful healing ingredients and I will be giving it a try this winter. I will report back on my opinion. You can buy InstaCure Nose Balm. It’s more expensive than Burt’s Bees, but if it works better, it might be worth it!
Coconut oil can also be used in and under the nose to lubricate. This oil is one of my favorite and hardest working products to help my dry symptoms. Dr. Bronner’s coconut oil is my all-time favorite. And although expensive, the product has so many uses that I think it’s a good choice. Trader joe’s also has a good product at a good price. There are also many brands to try at the grocery store.
Yes…and a humidifier!
These are some of my favorite products and tips for caring for our dry nose and sinus cavity. I also found some new products to try and that look good based on their ingredients and their company. If you have favorite tips or products that you believe are key to maintaining comfort and keeping healthy sinuses, please let me know and I will share with others.
If you are interested in what products I use as daily, then take a look at my blog post My Daily Survival Kit. The only change is that I now use NeilMed Nasal Gel instead of Ayr.