Sneezing is a reaction to irritants and a way for the nose to get rid of germs. Nearly any particle can irritate the nose and cause a sneeze.

Sneezing is the body’s natural reaction to irritants inside the nose. Common irritants include:

  • viruses or bacteria
  • dust
  • pollen
  • dander

All of these particles may trigger a sneeze. Sneezing is a partially controllable reaction to irritants. This means it is often possible to delay or even stop a sneeze before it occurs. In this article, we’ll explore 12 ways to stop sneezing.

It may be possible to delay or stop sneezing naturally by doing the following:

Treating allergies is a good way to help prevent sneezing. However, to treat the allergy, a person must first identify what allergens trigger the reaction.

Once the person has done this, they might be able to avoid the allergen and prevent sneezing as a result of exposure to it.

There may be times when it is impossible to avoid the allergen. In these situations, people can help manage their reaction to it by using over-the-counter (OTC) medications that can help with allergic reactions.

Common types include antihistamine tablets or pills and glucocorticosteroid nasal sprays.

Some people who experience more severe reactions may need prescription drugs or allergy shots to help prevent or reduce the effects of exposure to the allergen.

Different things can cause someone to sneeze. Some of these triggers may be easy to spot and avoid.

As the National Health Service suggests, learning what causes sneezing can help people avoid it. Triggers can include:

  • dander
  • dust
  • spices, such as pepper
  • bright lights
  • spicy food
  • mold
  • pollen
  • the common cold virus
  • perfume
  • baking flour

Photic sneezing is when someone sneezes when looking at a bright light.

The condition affects about a third of people worldwide. When people with this reflex go outside on a bright day, they may begin to sneeze.

People with photic sneezing typically have a family history of the condition. They can help prevent photic sneezing by avoiding looking directly at bright lights and wearing sunglasses on sunny days.

Some people sneeze after eating certain foods. Scientists call this phenomenon gustatory rhinitis.

People with this condition may be able to help reduce sneezing by eating fewer of the following foods:

  • chili peppers
  • bell peppers
  • cayenne peppers
  • Tabasco sauce
  • onion
  • vinegar
  • mustard

One anecdotal theory is that saying a funny or unusual word out loud just before sneezing can stop the sneeze from occurring.

The belief is that the action of verbalizing something interesting or unusual distracts the brain, which helps prevent the sneeze. However, there is no research to back up these claims.

A person may be able to stifle a sneeze by stimulating the roof of their mouth with their tongue.

Doing this for several seconds before sneezing may help prevent it from occurring.

However, no scientific research exists on this topic.

Some people are in situations where they constantly come into contact with irritants in the air. This may be due to their occupation, or a person may have hobbies or live in an area where irritants are regularly in the air.

Irritants may include:

  • cement
  • coal
  • chemicals
  • asbestos
  • grain or flour
  • metals
  • live poultry
  • wood (sawdust)

As a recent article explains, irritants are dangerous if people are in contact with them for too long. They may lead to cancer in the throat, mouth, or nose.

People should wear protective gear when in areas where these particles are present.

Ventilation and dust prevention can help reduce exposure. Reducing exposure to these irritants can help prevent complications.

People who are about to sneeze can try blowing their nose instead. This may help clear the irritant triggering the sneeze, although this technique is not scientifically established.

However, as a person may blow their nose and then sneeze immediately afterward, this method is not always effective.

Keeping tissues nearby can help a person reach them in time to stop or catch the sneeze.

Using a nasal spray to clear the sinuses might help prevent a trigger from causing a sneeze. Prescription or OTC nasal spray may not be necessary for this.


For example, using a nasal spray containing capsaicin may help to desensitize the nasal tissue, which might make sneezing less frequent. Capsaicin is a chemical that gives chili peppers their heat.

However, there is no good evidence to support this theory.

People can try pinching their nose at the first sign of a sneeze.

A person can do this by pinching higher up on the nose, closer to the eyes.

There is anecdotal evidence that this may help with sneezing.

Vitamin C is an antihistamine. Vitamin C is in citrus fruits, certain vegetables, and supplements.

By increasing the amount of vitamin C in their diet, a person may potentially see a reduction in sneezing over time due to the vitamin’s immune-boosting effects.

Again, there is currently no scientific evidence to support this hypothesis.

As with vitamin C, chamomile has antihistamine effects.

To help prevent sneezing, a person could drink a cup of chamomile tea daily to help reduce the total amount of histamine in the body. However, scientists have yet to find any evidence for this.

There is not much that anyone can do about a sudden bout of sneezing.

Since the sneezing fit will likely end soon, anyone experiencing a bout of sneezing need only wait a few moments for it to pass.

However, if a sneezing fit goes on for a long time or keeps coming back despite conventional treatments, a person may wish to consider contacting a doctor.

There is no good evidence that, in ordinary cases, sneezing a lot leads to negative health outcomes.

However, for people with a condition called intractable sneezing, the matter is different.

Intractable sneezing is an uncommon condition in which an individual sneezes a lot, and the sneezing does not get better with standard lines of treatment.

People with this condition can find the constant sneezing hard to manage.

There are several reasons why someone might experience frequent bouts of sneezing. They may have a cold or a similar condition that can lead to sneezing. They may have experienced exposure to allergens or other irritants for a prolonged period of time.

In the rare case of intractable sneezing, scientists understand its most common cause to be psychological in nature. For example, some people may develop intractable sneezing after experiencing a traumatic event.

It is not always possible to stop a sneeze. Many of the methods of stopping a sneeze involve finding ways to help prevent the reflex of sneezing in the first place. People may find success with one or more methods.

Some people may need to consult their doctor if their sneezing is excessive. They should also talk with a medical professional before taking any supplements or putting any new substance into their body.

Read this article in Spanish.