Swollen Nose

A swollen nose may be caused by a variety of factors, but it can be disturbing to whoever has it, regardless of what caused it. You may experience pain and redness on one side or the other, or the middle of your nose. Or you may feel that your nose is blocked, and feel the need to blow.

Sometimes, pain from the nose can radiate to the eye or the cheek, and some people even feel swollen lymph nodes in their neck when their nose is swollen. Other possible symptoms include facial pain, headaches and toothaches.

Causes for swelling in your nose, along with the other symptoms, include:

  • Nasal polyps
  • Trauma to the nose
  • Allergic rhinitis
  • Sinusitis
  • Local infection
  • Foreign body in nose (This usually occurs with children, but can occur with adults, as well.)


Swollen Nose Causes

  • Sinusitis

This is a common cause for swelling in the nose. It could be caused by infection or an allergic reaction. The inflammation causes the sinus mucosa to swell, which leads to a clogged nasal passage and excessive production of mucus. That’s why, if you have sinusitis, you always feel like you need to blow your nose. You may experience headaches, too, due to the congestion.

Treatment for sinusitis involves pain relievers (for symptoms), antibiotics and decongestants. Allergic sinusitis is similar in many ways to allergic rhinitis, which we describe below.

  • Infection

Another cause of a swelling in the nose is an infection to the outside or interior of the nose. It may appear initially like a firm, reddish pimple. Then it will swell and become larger, causing more pain, before it produces pus.

If this growth is inside your nose, it may be caused by blowing or picking the nose, or a pulled nose hair, any of which may cause lesions in the nasal mucosa. From the lesions can come bacteria, including Staphylococcal, which breaks down your body’s natural defenses, causing infection. It is similar to what occurs when the swelling is on the outer skin of your nose, where there are pores that may become clogged and then infected with bacteria.

If you have a small bump that grows larger, it may become a boil or abscess, and lead to localized pus. The bump will be painful and warm, and you may have a fever, as well. Lymph nodes in the area may become painful and swollen. This is the result of your body activating its immune system to combat the bacteria.

When the pimple is still small, you may be able to clear it up with antibacterial solution. When it forms an abscess, however, the pus must be drained, before the application of an antibacterial solution.

If the infection has spread, you may be prescribed IV or oral antibiotics by your physician. Usually, after the pus has been drained and the inflammation has receded, the pain will be alleviated, as well. You can still take OTC pain killers until the pain decreases. DO NOT use a needle or pressure to drain the pus yourself. This actually can spread the infection even further.

  • Trauma

Trauma to your nose, from bumping or hitting it, or falling, may cause swelling and pain, and you will have a visibly swollen nose. If your nose appears crooked, you may have a cracked or fractured bone. Broken bones may also be accompanied by bruising and bleeding in the area of the eyes and nose. You may even have some difficulty in breathing. See your physician right away if you have these symptoms.

  • Allergic Rhinitis

This medical problem also causes the mucosa inside your nose to swell. It occurs after you have inhaled pollutants, bacteria, smoke, pollen or dust that you are allergic to. It may cause headaches, sneezing and a runny nose.

Your nose will be painful, red, clogged and swollen, particularly if you blow it a lot. Treatment will include pain relievers, antihistamines and decongestants.

  • Nasal Polyps

A swollen nose can also be caused by nasal polyps. They are benign growths in your nose, associated with some allergic conditions. If they get larger, they may block your nasal passages, cause mucus to be over-produced and collected, and cause pain similar that that experienced with sinusitis.

If these polyps continue to grow, they may push into your bones, changing the shape of your nose. See an Ear, Nose & Throat specialist for treatment. It may include steroid nasal sprays, decongestants and possible polyp removal by surgery.

  • Foreign Object(s)

Foreign objects in the nose are more common during childhood, but it can happen to adults, too. They cause nasal swelling, along with tenderness. If it remains undetected for several days, or has sliced the nasal mucosa, you may be ripe for infection.

You’ll know if your nose is infected. It will often have a foul-smelling discharge that is green or yellow in color. You may also experience bleeding. Seek immediate medical help to have the object removed and clear up your infection.

Relieving a Swollen Nose

If the most probable cause for your nasal swelling is an infection, your physician can prescribe antibiotics. Some problems in the nasal cavity may require surgical intervention, like draining pus, removing a polyp or repairing a broken bone. For relief of less serious swelling of the nose, here are a few helpful tips:

  • DO NOT put cotton or tissue inside, or pack your nostril(s).
  • DO NOT poke inside your nose using an object or your finger. This can cause bleeding and infection. Blow your nose gently if you need to blow.
  • Don’t drink alcohol or smoke tobacco while you have a swollen nose. It might aggravate your symptoms.
  • Don’t inhale pollen, dust or any other irritants that could cause an allergic reaction.
  • DO take anti-inflammatories or pain relievers if you need them. Eat something first, to avoid irritating your stomach.
  • DO apply ice INSIDE a towel or bag to your nose, for reduction of swelling and to ease the pain. This can be done for up to 20 minutes, a few times a day.
  • DO use extra pillows to elevate your head at night. This helps the mucus drain.

If your swollen nose is congested because of sinusitis or allergies, you may use antihistamines, nasal decongestants and nasal sprays. If you take these for over three days and the symptoms do not improve, call your physician and have your nose checked out.


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