If you or your child has an indented line across the bridge of the nose, the allergic salute may be to blame.

This telltale line is known as a nasal or allergic crease. It’s caused by habitually rubbing the nose in an upwards motion with the hands or fingers.

People most likely to get a nasal crease are those who have itchy, runny, sneezy noses a lot of the time, such as those with allergic rhinitis. The crease often goes away on its own, but in some cases it can linger permanently in adults.

In this article we’ll discuss the allergic salute, the nasal crease, and how to avoid both.

Nasal creases are usually associated with conditions where your nose is itchy and runny a lot of the time, such as with allergic rhinitis. Common environmental allergens include dust mites, animal dander, pollen and mold spores.

An itchy, runny nose can be uncomfortable, especially when tissues are out of reach. The desire to rub or scratch may happen many times a day in people with allergic rhinitis.

To soothe an irritated, drippy nose, some people use the allergic salute.

The allergic salute refers to the upwards swipe of the fingers or palms of the hands, along the tip of the nose, while sniffling in. This action forces the nose to tilt upwards.

When done habitually over long periods of time, the allergic salute can cause a horizontal line to form above the nostrils. This line is known as the allergic or nasal crease.

The nasal crease can be hypopigmented, meaning it’s lighter than the skin surrounding it. It can also be hyperpigmented or darker than the surrounding skin.

Children may be more likely than adults to overuse the allergic salute. For that reason, nasal creases are common in kids, especially those who have allergies.

The treatment of a nasal crease depends on the age of the person it’s affecting.

Treating nasal creases in children

In children, a faint nasal crease should go away on its own once the allergy is treated.

Once the nose is no longer itching or runny, the desire to swipe it with the allergic salute should diminish and with it, the nasal crease.

Treating nasal creases in adults

In some instances, the nasal crease doesn’t diminish on its own. This is most likely to occur in adults who’ve had unchecked allergies since childhood.

In some instances, the allergic salute may become an embedded habit, used without noticing over many years. Adults who have a permanent allergic crease should see a dermatologist for personalized solutions.

  • If the crease is hyperpigmented, lightening it with a hydroquinone bleaching cream combined with hydrocortisone, may help. You should also avoid sun exposure. Hydroquinone is only available as a prescription through your doctor. Previously it had been available over the counter but the status was changed in 2021 following a ruling by the FDA.
  • Hypopigmented scars may be treated with medical tattooing, laser therapy, scar excision, or other therapies.
  • In some adults, nasal creases may turn into indented, atrophic scars. Your dermatologist may recommend methods such as laser therapy or a chemical peel.

Consistently avoiding or treating environmental allergies with medication is your best bet for preventing nasal creases. Common treatments for nasal allergies include:

Rubbing your nose can become a habit, with or without nasal symptoms. To combat this, try keeping tissues handy at all times. Gently use them to wipe or blow your nose instead of rubbing it.

Try to become conscious of the times you rub your nose and actively attempt to reduce their occurrence.

If you see your child doing the allergic salute, calmly and gently remind them to stop. Consistency is important. In some instances, giving children items that keep the hands busy, such as fidget toys, may help.

Adults and children with allergies may use the allergic salute to wipe their noses. This behavior can result in the formation of the allergic crease.

Allergic creases are usually faint in appearance, and they’re generally temporary. Faint allergic creases typically resolve on their own.

In some instances, allergic creases may become permanent. There are dermatological solutions which can reduce or remove their appearance. Successful allergy management may though help prevent them in the first place.