Painful sores in the nose can occur due to a scratch inside the nose, bacterial infections, or health conditions such as lupus and vasculitis. Home remedies, including pain relief medication, may help to relieve symptoms.

This article looks at health issues that lead to sores in the nose, the treatments available, and when to see a doctor.

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Sores or ulcers can develop on the skin within the nose. If a person can see them, they may resemble little pimples or scabs. They might be red, white, or yellow.

Any number of factors can damage or irritate the skin inside the nose, causing sores. While they may be painful or uncomfortable, they are usually no cause for concern.

However, if the sore or pimple does not go away, people should seek medical help. In some cases, a sore inside the nose can indicate an underlying health problem.

Below, learn about the minor and more serious issues that can result in nasal sores — and other symptoms to look out for.


Sores in the nose may develop in response to trauma — a scratch inside the nose, for example — especially if an infection develops.

Picking the nose can irritate or break the skin, leading to sores, and inhaling drugs through the nose can have the same effect. Nose sores and scabs can also develop from more significant injuries, such as injuries that might occur after falling over.

Pressure sores may also develop from compression and tissue damage that may occur to the nasal passage if someone has to use nasal tubes for intubation, for example during surgery or for someone who requires mechanical ventilation and cannot be use orally intubation.

When nose sores stem from trauma, a person may also experience pain and swelling in the area.


Various infections can cause sores inside the nose. Nasal vestibulitis is a common bacterial infection that may lead to nasal sores. Other symptoms include pain, swelling, and tenderness.

Picking the nose, plucking nose hair, or blowing the nose excessively can expose the body to the bacteria that cause nasal vestibulitis, as can nose piercings.

Another bacterial infection that can cause nasal sores or ulcers is tuberculosis (TB). However, nasal TB is very rare.

The bacteria responsible for TB can spread through the air. Some people with the infection have no symptoms, while others may experience:


Acne and pimples often affect the nose. When inside or around the nose, they may look or feel like sores or ulcers. Acne can also develop into inflammatory lesions or cysts over time.

Hormones and genetics can play a role in the development of acne. The severity and extent of acne may vary from person to person.

Other areas that acne may affect include:

  • chest
  • upper back
  • upper arms
  • forehead
  • chin

Cold sores

Cold sores are a common, temporary condition that can occur anywhere on the face, including the nose. They may look like small fluid-filled blisters that eventually burst and scab over. People might feel a tingling in the skin before a cold sore develops.

The main cause of oral herpes and its symptoms is the herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1). Contact with these sores can spread the virus, so people should take steps to reduce transmission if they have active cold sores.


Lupus is an autoimmune condition that causes inflammation and pain. Some people develop sores or ulcers in the mouth and nose from time to time.

Lupus symptoms may vary depending on the type of lupus someone has. Other potential symptoms include the following:


Vasculitis is a term that refers to inflammation in the blood vessels. It keeps the blood from effectively delivering oxygen and nutrients, and it can develop in any of the body’s blood vessels.

The symptoms depend on the location of the inflamed blood vessels, but when it affects those in the face, vasculitis can cause sores in the nose and other nasal symptoms, such as a runny nose or sinus infections.

People may also experience:


In rare cases, a sore inside the nose that does not go away stems from paranasal sinus and nasal cavity cancer.

People may also experience basal cell carcinoma, the most common skin cancer, and squamous cell carcinoma on the external nose.

Other symptoms of paranasal sinus and nasal cavity cancer can include:

  • a persistent stuffy or runny nose
  • sinus infections that keep returning or do not get better
  • headaches
  • sinus pain
  • face, eye, or ear pain
  • swelling in the face
  • teary eyes
  • vision loss
  • tooth pain or numbness
  • tooth loss

The right treatment approach depends on the cause of the sores. Uninfected sores and scabs may clear on their own in a few days. However, it is important not to scratch or pick at the sores while they heal.

Doctors may recommend topical treatment options for acne, such as topical retinoids or azelaic acid. They may prescribe antiviral medication for people with cold sores.

Doctors may treat bacterial infections with topical, oral, or intravenous (IV) antibiotics. Severe infections with an abscess may require surgery.

TB can be fatal without treatment — which usually involves taking a combination of drugs for about 6–9 months.

Lupus is a long-term condition with no cure. The symptoms tend to come and go over time, and treatment involves taking drugs such as steroids and immunosuppressants to manage symptoms.

If paranasal sinus and nasal cavity cancer is causing the sores, a person’s treatment plan will target the cancer and may include a combination of chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and surgery.

Nasal sores may resolve on their own or with minimal treatment. In the meantime, the following can help ease discomfort:

  • Take pain relief: Over-the-counter (OTC) pain relief may include paracetamol (Tylenol, Panadol), aspirin (Anadin), or ibuprofen (Advil).
  • Apply soothing products: This may include petroleum jelly or cold compression packs.
  • Avoid irritation: Actions such as picking or rubbing at the affected area can lead to further irritation and increase the risk of introducing bacteria.

People can speak with a healthcare professional for more advice on diagnosing and treating their nose sores.

If nasal sores last longer than a few days, a person may wish to consult a doctor.

This is especially important if other signs of a health issue are present, such as any symptoms of TB, lupus, or cancer.

Below are some common questions about sores in the nose.

Does lupus cause sores to develop in the nose?

Lupus can cause sores to develop inside the nose.

What do nose sores that develop due to lupus look like?

Nose sores that develop due to lupus can appear similar to ulcers or canker sores.

What autoimmune disease causes nose ulcers?

Nose ulcers can develop due to lupus and a rare group of autoimmune conditions called pemphigus vulgaris. Pemphigus vulgaris causes blisters to develop on the skin and mucus membranes.

Why do I get ulcers in my nose?

A person can develop nose ulcers for many reasons. Some causes include trauma, infection, acne, cold sores, lupus, vasculitis, and, in rare cases, cancer.

How do you treat lupus nose ulcers?

A person can try applying topical creams or gels to the ulcer. A doctor may also recommend steroid nasal sprays or pastes and oral medications.

How can someone heal a sore inside the nose?

Sores inside the nose may heal within a few days as long as someone does not irritate them or introduce bacteria. However, doctors may recommend OTC pain relief, topical medications, or antiviral medications.

What causes tenderness in the nose?

Someone’s nose might be sore to the touch if they have a sore or an injury to the nose, such as a scratch inside the nostril.

People can speak with a healthcare professional for a proper diagnosis.

What does nasal vestibulitis look like?

Visual symptoms of nasal vestibulitis may include crusting or dryness in or around the nose, swelling, bleeding, and unexplained oozing from the nose.

The nose may also be itchy or painful.

The skin inside the nose is sensitive and easy to damage or irritate. This can lead to sores or scabs. Other causes of sores include bacterial infections, acne, or health conditions such as lupus.

If the sores are persistent, and particularly if any other symptoms are present, it is important to speak with a doctor.

Treatment options will depend on the cause of the sores but may include antiviral or antibiotic medication, topical treatments, such as retinol, or OTC pain relief.