Painful sores in the nose can occur for various reasons, ranging from an infected scratch to tuberculosis (TB). In rare cases, they may be a sign of cancer.

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, and 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 these sores. While they are often painful or uncomfortable, they are usually no cause for concern.

In some cases, however, 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 commonly 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 from a fall or a blow to the face.

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. Among them are nasal vestibulitis, a common bacterial infection.

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.

The symptoms may include pain, swelling, and tenderness in the area.

In addition, the bacterial infection tuberculosis (TB) can form sores or ulcers inside the nose.

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

  • a persistent cough that lasts 3 weeks or longer
  • chest pain
  • coughing up blood or phlegm from deep within the lungs
  • weakness
  • extreme tiredness
  • a loss of appetite
  • chills, sometimes with a fever
  • night sweats


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.

Everyone with lupus experiences different symptoms, and they can develop anywhere on the body. The symptoms might include:

  • extreme tiredness
  • painful, swollen joints
  • swollen hands and feet
  • swelling around the eyes
  • headaches
  • chest pain
  • sensitivity to sunlight
  • sensitivity to fluorescent light


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 those in the face are affected, vasculitis can cause sores to form in the nose or mouth.

People may also experience:

  • muscle pain
  • joint pain
  • a fever
  • a loss of appetite and weight loss
  • a headache
  • weakness


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

Other symptoms can include:

  • a persistent stuffy nose
  • a persistent 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 approach depends on the cause of the sores. Uninfected sores and scabs usually clear on their own in a few days. It is important not to scratch or pick at the sores while they heal.

Doctors usually need to treat bacterial infections with antibiotics, and 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 the treatment involves taking drugs such as steroids and immunosuppressants to manage the symptoms.

If paranasal sinus and nasal cavity cancer is causing the sores, the treatment plan usually includes a combination of chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and surgery.

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

  • taking over-the-counter pain relief medication
  • applying a soothing product, such as petroleum jelly
  • avoiding further irritation, such as picking at or rubbing the area

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

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

The skin inside the nose is sensitive and easy to damage or irritate. This can lead to sores or scabs. These usually go away on their own.

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