What’s Causing Scabs in My Nose?

Medically reviewed by Deborah Weatherspoon, PhD, RN, CRNA on June 27, 2017Written by Ana Gotter on June 27, 2017

Scabs in your nose

We can get scabs anywhere on our body — including inside our nose.

Hardened, dried mucus can feel like scabs and is extremely common inside the nose. But there are other types of sores and scabs within the nose, which may be made of dried blood. These can be more painful and require time to heal.

Continue reading to learn about the causes of scabs in the nose.

What are the causes of scabs in your nose?

There are a number of different causes that can lead to scabs forming in the nose, including:

Inflammation from allergies

Inflammation in the nasal passages can cause scabbing, and allergies are easily the most common cause of inflammation within the nasal passage. Other symptoms of allergies include watery eyes, itchy skin, and postnasal drip.

Trauma

Trauma to the nose or nasal passages can damage the delicate skin within the nose, leading to bleeding and scabs. Trauma can include rubbing, scratching, or hitting the nose.

Even the habit of picking your nose can cause scabs to occur. if this happens, leave the scab alone. Picking the scab off can cause another scab to develop.

HIV

HIV infections can cause sinusitis and rhinitis in those affected, which can cause scabbing within the nose.

HIV can also cause painful nasal lesions that may bleed and scab. These lesions typically take longer to heal and are more painful than some of the other causes on this list.

Additional symptoms you may experience with nose scabs related to HIV include toothaches, stuffy nose, headaches that are worse at night, persistent postnasal drip, and aching or pressure behind the eyes.

Herpes

The herpes simplex virus can cause cold sores on the lips and in the nasal region, which can crust over into scabs when they’re healing. These cold sores are often painful and may need anesthetic creams. Other symptoms of herpes flare-ups include tingling of the skin, slight swelling, and fluid-filled blisters that crust over into a scab after about 8 to 10 days.

Environmental dryness

Environmental dryness often comes from a change in climate (especially during the winter). and can cause breaks in the skin inside the nose. This can cause small bleeds, which then turn to scabs.

If environmental dryness is to blame, you’ll likely notice that the rest of your skin — including your lips — is dryer and more chapped than normal.

Drugs

Inhaling drugs through the nasal passages can cause extreme irritation and damage to the nasal passages. This can cause bleeding and scabbing.

Sinusitis

Sinusitis is the inflammation and swelling of the sinuses. It can cause bleeding and scabbing within the nasal passages due to the irritation. The swelling may also cause fluid to get trapped within the nasal passages, along with other debris like dust. These trappings can harden to form scabs. This can occur in both short- and long-term sinusitis.

Sinusitis can be caused by respiratory infections, a deviated septum, and even allergies.

Prolonged use of nasal sprays

Prolonged use of nasal sprays can cause excessive dryness within the nasal passages, potentially leading to breaking and then scabbing. To prevent this, you can use a saline solution in addition to the nasal spray to keep the nasal passages moist.

Nasal cancer

Hard, crusty bumps in the nasal passage that are persistent and don’t respond to treatment could indicate nasal cancer. Other cancer symptoms include sinus pressure, nosebleeds, runny nose, facial numbing, facial tingling, and ear pain or pressure.

How is the cause of scabs in the nose diagnosed?

If you have painful scabs or sores within the nose that aren’t healing at all after one week despite home treatment, make an appointment to see your doctor.

At the appointment, they’ll ask you about any other symptoms or known underlying conditions you have. They’ll examine the area, likely using a light to check the nasal passages.

If your doctor suspects an infection, they’ll order blood work to check for the infection in the blood. They’ll also order blood work if they suspect herpes or HIV as the cause of the sores or scabs within the nose.

If your doctor suspects a chronic problem, like sinusitis, they may refer you to an ENT, which is an ear, nose, and throat specialist.

If the scabs in your nose indicate nasal cancer, your ENT will take a biopsy of the scabs.

How are scabs in the nose treated?

The treatment of scabs in the nose will depend entirely on the cause. Treatments include:

  • topical antibacterial and anesthetic ointments and creams, which can speed up healing, prevent infection, and offer pain relief
  • antivirals for conditions like herpes and HIV
  • daily allergy medications
  • oral antibiotics for sinus infections

Home treatments

Home treatment is often incredibly effective for scabs within the nose. This includes:

What is the outlook for scabs in the nose?

While uncomfortable, the best thing you can do is to let the scab heal. Picking at the scab can cause more bleeding, which can cause more scabbing. Most cases of scabs within the nose will resolve quickly. Many symptoms respond well to treatment.

Can scabs in the nose be prevented?

Most scabs in the nose can be prevented. Keep your nasal passages moist with petroleum jelly or saline spray if you notice dryness, and avoid trauma (including nose picking) which can cause scabbing.

You can take allergy medication to prevent sinusitis and irritation from hay fever and prescription antivirals for herpes or HIV infections.

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