How can I keep my nose moist when I have a cold?

Moisturizing Your Nose

There's a saying in sports that the best offense is a good defense. The same holds true for moisturizing your skin. Don't wait until you get a cold, complete with a nose rubbed raw, to show your nasal area a little TLC. Throughout the winter, you should drink lots of water, wear a moisturizer complete with SPF and wear a scarf that covers your face when you're heading outside.

Once a cold does strike, double up on the water so that your skin can be moisturized from within. To protect the moisture on the skin's surface, don't settle for anything less than lotion-infused tissues to blow your nose. That means no toilet paper, no paper towels. Too often, cold sufferers only reach for the good tissues once their nose is chapped, but as soon as you feel the urge to blow, stock up on the good stuff.

Though it may seem like a long steamy shower will open your nasal passages and nip that cold in the bud, it will only damage your skin once you step into the cool air [source: Lerche Davis]. Instead, use lukewarm water when you wash and use a saline nasal spray to moisturize your mucus membranes. You may find a vaporizer or a humidifier eases that chapped, painful feeling, but be mindful of health and safety concerns. A vaporizer could cause burns, and a humidifier must be regularly cleaned so that bacteria and mold don't form and cause further respiratory ills.

Of course, you should always use a moisturizer, but you may want to use more if you have a cold, as it's your best bet for relieving skin irritation thanks to frequent nose blowing. Look for a humectant moisturizer, which will draw moisture to the skin's surface and heal any redness or rawness. Petroleum jelly will work in a pinch, but don't use it too frequently on the skin right under your nose. Though it's rare, putting petroleum jelly in that location could lead to lipid pneumonia if you inhale the jelly into your lungs [source: Gibson]. A simple water-based moisturizer will work just fine.

For more on finding a good moisturizer and for other tips on taking care of your skin through all seasons, see the links below.

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  • "Battling Old Man Winter." CBS. Jan. 8, 1999. (Dec. 29, 2009)
  • Bouchez, Colette. "Covering Up Cold and Flu Symptoms: Beauty Tips." WebMD. (Dec. 29, 2009)
  • Brody, Jane E. "Saving Your Skin When Winter Attacks." New York Times. Feb. 13, 2001. (Dec. 29, 2009)
  • Gibson, Lawrence E. "Petroleum Jelly: Safe for a Dry Nose?" Mayo Clinic. Nov. 25, 2008. (Dec. 29, 2009)
  • Lerche Davis, Jeanie. "The Rewards of Pampering Your Nose." WebMD. March 20, 2008. (Dec. 29, 2009)
  • O'Connor, Anahad. "The Claim: Never Blow Your Nose When You Have a Cold." New York Times. Feb. 10, 2009. (Dec. 29, 2009)
  • Singer, Natasha. "Help Skin Survive a Cruel Season." New York Times. Jan. 5, 2006. (Dec. 29, 2009)
  • Sweeney, Camille. "It's Cold and Your Skin is Suffering. So What Are You Doing to Moisturize?" New York Times. Feb. 5, 2009. (Dec. 29, 2009)