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a person with oxygen cannula has a nose with a desert landscape on it

Nose Dryness With Supplemental Oxygen

Sometimes mom had nose dryness with supplemental oxygen for COPD. Then the cannula would irritate it and make things worse. Her skin seemed drier and thinner inside her nostrils anyway, and oxygen blowing up there was not very comfortable.

Mom enjoyed looking her best, and having an irritated nose with bleeding or scabs certainly didn’t help. However, it was more than just about her looks. With dry mucous membranes, she was at risk of health problems too.

Let’s look at all the problems that can stem from having dry nasal canals while on oxygen therapy.

Thin nasal canals

Dry nasal canals can become thin, causing tightness and itching. It’s one of those things where if you scratch, your nose can bleed.

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OTC solutions from Mom’s doctor helped get us started. She tried a water-soluble jelly like KY. I got her a jar of vaseline. When that turned into a mess, she ended up with a sore in her nose.

Her doctor then suggested we try an antibiotic over the counter cream. She applied it with a cotton swab and the sore quickly healed.

All natural items were saline nose drops or spray. Occasionally tried colloidal silver spray.

My cousin made a batch of a natural cream that mom loved too. She carried it in her purse. It was a mixture of pure shea butter and coconut oil with a little tea tree oil in it.

Prescription cream was a huge help. One that truly surprised me was pure lanolin. I’m sure it’s available online now. Mom got it from the pharmacy and it coated the insides of her nose really well.

Sore nose

The nose becomes sore from the cannula being in there all the time. As it rubs against the skin, it creates irritation or redness.


Massaging her nose when applying a gel, cream, or ointment by gently rubbing with a cotton swab was soothing. By increasing blood circulation gently, it helped reduce itching and soreness.

Cannula cleaning, changing, and position was also useful too. Sometimes, mom would keep the same one on for a while, and it became stiff and brittle. I know that the plastic kind of hardens over time. I remember watching mom adjust it so that it rested just below her nostrils.

A full mask would give her a break when her nose was sore. That worked well at nighttime unless she turned over and lost it in her sleep.

Nose dryness with supplemental oxygen

It seemed to be an ongoing problem off and on for mom. She had months of irritation-free times, and then she would go through bouts of dryness.

Most of our efforts were to keep her free from sores that might become infected. She was careful to use soft tissue around her nose and tried not to irritate it.

If you have a dry nose, you might also have dry mouth. It can seem like a lot to keep your mucous membranes moist while using oxygen or CPAP.

However, it’s possible! Drink plenty of water and eat foods that hydrate your body. Always talk with your medical provider for help with any problems you have from using supplemental O2 with COPD. Mom was able to keep her nose and throat mostly healthy and comfortable by using these solutions and remedies.

Have any of these tips helped you?

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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