Guest Post By Genevieve Kane, MSN, RN
There are several reasons for runny, stuffy noses and the need for nasal hygiene. Cool weather brings people indoors and together. Closer contact with others tends to share germs more efficiently, like cold and flu viruses.
Warmer air holds more humidity, so the air becomes drier when the weather turns cooler. Dry air can also lead to an irritated nose.
Regardless of the season, there are also several reasons for allergies year-round. Mold, dust, and pet dander may be present indoors. And while seasonal allergies may decrease in cooler climates, they may still persist in warmer ones.
5 Things to Know About Nasal Hygiene
If you have a dry, itchy, irritated, or runny nose, we’ve compiled a list to help! Here are five things to know about nasal hygiene and how to help you and your little one find relief.
Why Nasal Hygiene?
Nemours KidsHealth explains that your nose has many essential functions. Several of these roles include:
- The sense of smell
- Helping your sense of taste
- Warming up the air you breathe and moisturizing it
- Helping protect against dust, germs, and other small particles
So, if you have a congested baby, you may notice issues such as trouble eating if they are trying to nurse or suck a bottle and can’t breathe out of their nose. They may also experience difficulty getting comfortable if they try to breathe out of their nose and can’t.
An irritated or stuffy nose can also be frustrating and uncomfortable for kids and adults, regardless of age. Young kids may pick at irritated noses, leading to bleeding, more discomfort, or infections. And even if you’re not a nose breather like a newborn, many people prefer to breathe through their nose and may feel uncomfortable breathing through their mouth.
One of the simplest ways to help promote nasal hygiene is through the appropriate use of nasal sprays. A nasal spray can help moisturize the nose and loosen mucus. Just be sure you are using either a saline spray, rinse, or a prescription nasal spray.
You want to avoid rinsing or spraying you or your little one’s nose with tap or drinking water. While rare, there’s the possibility that these could have harmful germs or even amoebas. So stick with products specifically designed to rinse out the nose safely.
The Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth explains that saline rinses or sprays should be used twice a day and can be used additional times as needed. Saline rinses and sprays help thin and move out mucus.
In addition, depending on you or your child’s condition, you may be prescribed a steroid nasal spray. These help to reduce inflammation and swelling in the nose. Steroid sprays are typically used once daily and after a saline rinse or spray.
There are also nasal decongestant sprays, such as children’s AfrinⓇ. These are used before saline or steroid solutions to help to open up your nasal passages. By opening up nasal passages, the other methods can work more effectively.
Generally, most saline sprays and rinses are safe for all ages. Depending on the manufacturer, nasal decongestants and steroids may be recommended for kids as young as two years of age. However, follow the advice of your healthcare provider, as they may give you different instructions and clarify any questions you have with them.
Nasal suction can be effective for little ones who cannot blow their nose. Nasal suction can be especially helpful when used with saline sprays or rinses. The saline helps loosen up secretions so that a nasal suction device can get more out.
Several options for nasal suction exist, including bulb syringes, tubes that you put your mouth on to provide suction, and battery-charged options.
If you are seeking a hygienic, simple-to-use option that is easy to clean, consider the NozeBot nasal aspirator. There are several reasons to include the NozeBot in your first aid kit at home. The NozeBot features:
- Three different levels of hospital-grade suction
- A simple to use design with a nose piece that fits all ages
- Easy cleaning and sterilization
- A pediatrician behind its development
- Replaceable filters
- Battery power and portability!
If you’re unsure how to use the NozeBot, resources online include tips for helping your child feel comfortable. And if you know someone with a young child or who is expecting, the NozeBot makes a great baby shower or parent gift.
Whether your child experiences allergies and a stuffy nose regularly, or you’re heading into your first cold, flu, and RSV season as a parent, odds are high that your little one will need help clearing their nose at some point. A child and parent-friendly tool like the NozeBot that can get the job done quickly, cleanly, and efficiently helps everyone feel more comfortable — and fast!
During the fall and winter, dry air is one of the culprits of a runny, irritated nose. Running a cool-mist humidifier can help increase moisture in the air and reduce nasal irritation. Just clean it regularly, per the manufacturer's instructions, so it doesn’t develop mold and cause other health problems.
Use Caution When Putting Anything in the Nose
If you or your child have a congested, stuffy nose, the skin in and around your nose may become irritated and dry. Many parents turn to products such as Vaseline or Aquaphor to help.
While moisturizing products around the nose are generally safe, try to avoid putting anything in the nose. While rare, small amounts of fats (also known as lipoids) can travel into the respiratory system and cause lipoid pneumonia. So try to stick with nasal rinses and humidifiers and keep any moisturizing products outside of the nose unless instructed otherwise by your healthcare professional.
Practice Good Hand Hygiene
Good nasal hygiene includes avoiding sharing germs with others when you can help. If you have a runny nose, there will likely be tissues, nose blowing, and sneezing. So, to help keep others safe from your germs, consider keeping hand sanitizer on you and using it after you touch your nose. When possible, wash your hands with soap and water, too.
Looking for more tips on caring for congested kids? You’ll find these helpful:
- Chronic Congestion vs. A Stuffy Nose: What Parents and Caregivers Need to Know
- How To Introduce The NozeBot To Your Toddler
- How To Introduce The NozeBot To Your Preschooler
- Three Tips for Allergy Relief
- Allergies or a Cold? How to Tell The Difference
Whether your nose is irritated and runny from dry air, you experience allergies, or you have a bug, nasal congestion happens to everyone. If you or your little one is experiencing a runny nose, consider these five nasal hygiene tips to help relieve the discomfort from nasal congestion.
If you have any questions or concerns about specific products or tools, your healthcare provider’s office, nurse line, or pharmacist are great resources to help answer questions about you and your child’s health.
Genevieve Kane, MSN, RN, is a mother of four and a registered nurse with a background in pediatrics. When she's not working, you can find her cooking up tasty family dinners or keeping up with her kids on a hiking trail in her home state of Colorado.
A clear nose means better sleep.
The Nozebot is a battery-powered suction device designed to clear nasal congestion in babies and children.