A burning feeling in the nose can stem from an infection, allergic reaction, or another cause of irritation. A person may also experience burning, irritation, or itching in the eyes, throat, or sinuses.

In this article, we explore the causes of a burning sensation in the nose, along with their treatments and other symptoms. We also look into home remedies that can reduce irritation.

A woman who feels like her nose is burning sneezes into her elbow.Share on Pinterest
Home remedies, nasal sprays, and antibiotics may help treat a burning sensation in the nose, depending on the cause.

A burning sensation in the nose may result from inflammation or irritation brought about by an infection or allergic reaction.

Allergic rhinitis

“Rhinitis” refers to inflammation inside the nose. In a person with allergic rhinitis, the immune system mistakenly interprets a harmless substance, such as dust or pollen, as a threat and attacks it, leading to the inflammation.

Allergic rhinitis is very common, affecting 10–30% of people worldwide.

When the allergen responsible is pollen or something else that presents seasonally, the doctor may diagnose seasonal allergic rhinitis, which is better known as hay fever.

The symptoms of hay fever can include:

  • itchiness or a burning sensation in the nose, mouth, throat, and eyes
  • a stuffy nose
  • headaches
  • a runny nose and eyes
  • dark circles around the eyes
  • sneezing
  • postnasal drip, which can cause frequent throat clearing

The quickest way to relieve allergic rhinitis symptoms is to avoid the allergen. For example, people with pollen allergies may limit their time outdoors during days with high pollen counts.

Over-the-counter antihistamines and nasal corticosteroids can also help ease the symptoms.

Another option is allergy immunotherapy, which involves exposing the person to tiny doses of the allergen, “teaching” their immune system not to react to it. For the person, this may involve placing a tablet under the tongue each day or receiving regular injections.

Nonallergic rhinitis

Around 1 in 3 rhinitis cases are not caused by an allergic reaction.

In this case, the condition is called nonallergic rhinitis. It tends to affect adults and cause symptoms all year, including:

  • sneezing
  • a runny nose
  • a stuffy nose
  • postnasal drip
  • a burning sensation in the nose

Unlike allergic rhinitis, this issue usually does not cause itchiness or symptoms that affect the eyes or throat.

A person with nonallergic rhinitis may have a sensitivity to air pollution, certain odors or chemicals, or changes in the weather. Some medications and health issues such as viral infections can cause inflammation in the nose.

Avoiding triggers may help ease the symptoms of nonallergic rhinitis. While there is no cure, saline nasal sprays and medicated sprays or rinses may help reduce the inflammation.

Sinusitis

Sinusitis is an infection of the sinuses. The sinuses are small, empty spaces behind the cheeks and forehead. Sinusitis can occur due to a viral or bacterial infection.

Symptoms of sinusitis include:

  • a runny or stuffy nose
  • pain in the cheeks and forehead
  • headaches
  • a sore throat
  • mucus dripping down the throat
  • a cough
  • a fever

Most cases of sinusitis result from viral infections, which tend to go away on their own without treatment. When the cause is bacterial, a doctor can prescribe antibiotics.

Cold viruses

Around 1 billion colds occur in the United States each year — most of which result from rhinovirus infections. The symptoms may include:

  • a sore throat
  • a runny or stuffy nose, which can cause a burning sensation
  • a cough
  • headaches
  • body aches
  • a loss of taste and smell
  • a fever

Usually, cold symptoms go away without treatment, though certain medications and home remedies can ease symptoms. For example, decongestant medications can help unblock a stuffy nose.

Learn about the best medicines for each symptom of a cold.

Influenza

Influenza, or the flu, is another common respiratory tract infection. The flu can cause mild to severe symptoms that include:

  • fatigue
  • headaches
  • body aches
  • a cough
  • a sore throat
  • a fever
  • a runny or stuffy nose, sometimes with a burning sensation

Some people also experience vomiting and diarrhea. The symptoms of the flu often develop suddenly.

Most people recover without medical treatment, but certain groups have a higher risk and may require extra care and precautions, including:

  • adults older than 65
  • pregnant women
  • children under 5 years of age
  • people with chronic health conditions

Learn more about flu symptoms, treatments, and prevention methods.

Other respiratory infections

An infection can develop in any part of the respiratory tract, including the nose, throat, and lungs. Coronaviruses, such as SARS-CoV-2, are sometimes responsible.

SARS-CoV-2 is the virus that causes COVID-19. Some symptoms of COVID-19 may include:

  • a fever
  • a cough
  • shortness of breath
  • tiredness
  • headaches and body aches
  • a loss of taste or smell
  • a sore throat
  • a runny or stuffy nose, which may lead to a burning sensation
  • nausea or vomiting
  • diarrhea

Q:

Do we know of any association between a burning sensation in the nose and COVID-19?

A:

The nasal and sinus symptoms of COVID-19 are often the same as those of any other upper respiratory tract infections. They may include nasal burning, according to anecdotal reports in medical literature and the press.

Marc Meth, MD, FACAAI, FAAAI

Answers represent the opinions of our medical experts. All content is strictly informational and should not be considered medical advice.

Anyone who suspects that they have COVID-19 should contact a healthcare provider by phone, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Is it a sign of a stroke?

A burning sensation in the nose is not an indication of a stroke. The symptoms of a stroke include:

  • sudden numbness in the face, legs, or arms, especially on one side of the body
  • problems seeing in one or both eyes
  • difficulty walking
  • a loss of balance or coordination
  • a severe headache
  • trouble speaking or understanding speech

If anyone has any of these symptoms, call 911 immediately.

Home remedies cannot cure an infection or allergic reaction, but they can ease the symptoms and relieve discomfort.

For a viral illness, such as a cold or the flu, a person can:

  • inhale steam, from a hot bath or a bowl of very hot water, to clear congestion
  • drink plenty of fluids to replace any lost due to vomiting or diarrhea
  • get plenty of rest

For ongoing nasal irritation or inflammation, a person can try saline nasal sprays or rinses.

Also, increasing the amount of moisture in the air with a humidifier may make breathing easier and reduce discomfort.

Anyone who develops sudden or severe symptoms should receive medical care.

If a doctor determines that a burning sensation in the nose results from a bacterial infection, they will prescribe antibiotics. A doctor can also perform allergy testing before diagnosing allergic rhinitis.

However, if a person may have COVID-19, they should call ahead to check whether it is safe to visit the clinic, office, or hospital. If a doctor believes that someone may have COVID-19, they will advise about the next steps.

A burning sensation in the nose may stem from inflammation or irritation brought about by an infection or allergic reaction.

The feeling may be mild and go away when the infection clears or the reaction subsides. In the meantime, over-the-counter medications and nasal sprays can help ease the burning sensation and other symptoms.

If a person thinks that they might have COVID-19, they should stay at home and call their doctor.