Back To School Noses

School is back in session. It’s time for a new year of school, new friends, new classrooms, new teachers, and new germs. No one is safe. Kids spread these germs to their siblings and their parents. Parents give it to their coworkers who in turn pass it on to their families and the baristas at your friendly neighborhood coffee shop. Everyone is getting sick.

My office has already started to become inundated with little adorable petri dishes wiping their runny noses all over the place. Like tracking a herd of snails, slimy snot trails can be seen indicating their passage throughout the office. Smears of mucous on the windows, adorable little green boogery finger prints on the exam tables, and piles of kleenex in the trash cans are now par for the course these days. I keep hands perpetually soaking in hand sanitizer all day long.

Most of these people are infected with viruses which don’t require antibiotics. All they need is just a little “tincture of time”, lots of rest, grandma’s chicken soup, and some tender loving care.

But when allergy season runs into cold season which blends back into allergy season, the nose doesn’t stand a chance. That sniffer really gets the short end of the stick draining mucus for months on end. When the schnoz gets wiped with a dry kleenex thousands of times a day, week after week, it can start to get irritated. It turns red and angry, and hypersensitive and once that happens, it can be tough to soothe the soreness. Is there any hope for recovery?

Usually I recommend a combination for 3 different options. If one doesn’t work, then try another one, or mix and match.

First, try a little vaseline or aquafor placed just at the opening of each nostril without occluding (stopping up/blocking/making a giant petroleum jelly plug that keeps air from getting to) the nostrils. This can get a little messy, so a lot of people tend to only do this at night, but if the irritation is bad enough, it won’t hurt to do it during the day too.

The second option is to use a humidifier. This works best in dry climates. Again, this one typically is used at night. A little extra moisture in the air helps keep the skin moist and healthy and soothes the irritation and makes the nose less likely to become irritated with frequent blowing.

Finally, stay well hydrated. Often, when we are blowing our nose a lot, it can be because we are sick or feeling crummy because of allergies and this can divert resources from the rest of the body towards helping you feel better. You need more water during these times and most people tend to fall on the slightly dehydrated end of the spectrum normally. Increasing the amount of fluid you take in can help the skin not be quite so dry and not get irritated as easily.

Keeping your honker happy can be tough this time of year. But with a little bit of TLC, you can prevent it from going on strike. Remember, you don’t have to worry about getting better if you don’t get sick in the first place. Show your body some love and wash your hands early and often to keep the germs away.