Snotty nose is a condition where a person has nasal congestion or runny nose with nasal sounding speech, and obstruction with drainage from the nose. There are many causes for snotty nose. If an infant is suffering from snotty nose then the situation is even worse as the child does not know how to blow the nose in order to clear the nasal secretions. The nasal discharge can be clear or can be thick mucus. There may be persistent mouth-breathing in severe cases. Treatment for snotty nose is done according to the severity, cause and age of the patient. In this current article, we will focus on the causes, symptoms and treatment for snotty nose in infants, children and adults and some of the best home remedies for snotty nose.

Snotty Nose in Infants

Common Causes of Snotty Nose in Infants & Children

  • Adenoid hypertrophy is a very common cause of snotty nose.
  • Turbinate hypertrophy is also a common cause of snotty nose.
  • Allergies are also a common cause of snotty nose.
  • Significantly deviated septum can sometimes cause snotty nose in infants and children.
  • Infections, such as upper respiratory illness due viral or bacterial infections, are also a common cause for snotty nose in infants and children.
  • Genetic conditions, such as cystic fibrosis and immotile ciliary syndrome rarely can cause snotty nose.
  • Anatomic conditions, such as choanal atresia can also rarely cause snotty nose.

Symptoms & Treatment for Snotty Nose in Infants & Children

Given below are some different scenarios, which can occur with snotty nose in infants and children and the cause and treatment for it.

If Snotty Nose is accompanied with Symptoms of Fever and Copious Colored Nasal Discharge:

  • For the above symptoms, viral illness is the most common cause of snotty nose.
  • Bacterial super-infection can also occur and be the reason behind this condition.
  • Bacterial infection alone is a less common cause.
  • If the child is started on an antibiotic and symptoms improve partially, then it means there is a viral component, especially if the symptoms recur immediately after the antibiotics are stopped. So it is better to avoid antibiotics and should be given only if the child is very ill. The viral illness will run its course and subside eventually leading to relief from snotty nose. Conservative measures can be undertaken with saline spray followed by bulb suctioning to alleviate symptoms of snotty nose.
  • Rarely, genetic abnormalities such as immotile ciliary syndrome and cystic fibrosis can cause the above condition. Nasal polyps in kids increase the suspicion for genetic diseases. Adults can have nasal polyps from non-genetic diseases also.
  • If the child has no fever, but has nasal drainage, then the cause could be allergies and treatment is done accordingly.
  • Adenoidectomy in kids help in improving the symptoms of snotty nose.
  • Steroid nasal sprays can be used to avoid adenoidectomy and to alleviate the symptoms.

If Snotty Nose is Present throughout the Year and the Symptoms do not Seem to be Related to Any Season or Illness then the Cause of this could be:

  • Adenoid Hypertrophy can be an extremely common cause for the above mentioned symptoms. Adenoidectomy can be done for cure. However, this surgical procedure carries risks of swelling and bleeding in the post-operative period. This risk is higher in kids who are below 3 years of age; so this surgery is not recommended for them.
  • Steroid nasal sprays can also be used.
  • Deviated septum and turbinate hypertrophy are some of the lesser common causes. Both these conditions can be treated by surgery. But again risks are there, so it is better to wait till the child grows up a bit.
  • Anatomic problems, such as choanal atresia can rarely exist.
  • Fiberoptic Nasal Endoscopy is a test which helps in definitively determining the cause and the exact situation of the condition.

If the Child Suffering from Snotty Nose has Symptoms of Nasal Congestion with Clear Drainage, Along with Crusty Nose:

  • The common cause for this is allergies. Treatment is done by giving antihistamines.
  • If the child is older than 2 years, then steroid nasal sprays can be given.
  • Saline spray, which is followed by nasal bulb suctioning also helps in alleviating symptoms.

Treatment depends on the cause behind the snotty nose. The symptoms of snotty nose are difficult to differentiate among the conditions mentioned above. In children, sinusitis is not a cause for snotty nose as their sinus cavities are not completely developed until adolescence.
Irrespective of the cause, saline bullets or saline spray to the nose followed by nasal bulb suctioning is very effective in clearing the nose in children. This should be done daily for about four times a day to relieve the symptoms. The below things should be kept in mind when buying nasal bulb suction for your child:

  • The nasal tip should be rounded so trauma to the child's nose can be prevented.
  • You should be able to see clearly into the bulb for adequate suctioning and also to know when it needs to be cleaned
  • Make sure the nasal bulb suction can be taken apart for cleaning it.

Causes of Snotty Nose in Adults

Snotty nose occurs as a result of anything, which inflames or irritates the nasal tissues. Infections, allergies and different irritants are some of the common causes. Some of the less common causes include foreign body, polyps, migraine-like headaches or a tumor. Given below are some causes of snotty nose in adults:

Snotty Nose due to Medical Conditions

  • Acute sinusitis.
  • Cluster headache.
  • Chronic sinusitis.
  • Common cold.
  • Churg-Strauss syndrome.
  • Deviated septum.
  • Non-allergic rhinitis.
  • Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV)
  • Spinal fluid leak.
  • Wegener's granulomatosis.
  • Other infections.
  • Flu or influenza.

Snotty Nose due to Allergic Causes/Irritants

  • Allergy to dust mite.
  • Hay fever.
  • Allergy to milk.
  • Allergy to mold.
  • Latex allergy.
  • Allergy to certain foods.
  • Pet allergy
  • Soy allergy.
  • Shellfish allergy.
  • Tobacco smoke.
  • Wheat allergy.
  • Allergy to peanuts.
  • Perfume.

Snotty Nose due to other Causes

  • Bright lights.
  • Cold temperature.
  • Overuse of decongestant nasal sprays.
  • Addiction to drugs.
  • Dry air.
  • Hormonal changes.
  • Lodged object in the nose.
  • Certain medications.
  • Nasal polyps.
  • Occupational asthma.
  • Pregnancy.
  • Spicy foods.

Symptoms for Snotty Nose in Adults

  • Patient has nasal discharge which can be watery or mucous like.
  • Patient may also have sneezing with sore throat.
  • Patient may experience headaches.
  • If the snotty nose is severe, then the patient may also have nosebleeds.
  • Patient may also have cough.

Treatment for Snotty Nose in Adults

Treatment for snotty nose is done according to the cause. Once the cause is treated, the symptoms of snotty nose also subside. For example, if the patient is having a snotty nose due to sinusitis, then antibiotics are prescribed. Use of decongestants, such as pseudoephedrine, help in relieving nasal congestion. Antihistamines are prescribed if the snotty nose occurs as a result of allergies. Nasal inhalers, such as atrovent, help in relieving sneezing, snotty nose and cough. Cough medications are prescribed to relieve cough. OTC painkillers help in alleviating any headaches or body pains associated with snotty nose.

When to see a doctor for Snotty Nose

A snotty is nose an extremely annoying condition to have, especially for kids. It usually clears up on its own, but if it doesn't, it can indicate a more serious problem, especially in infants. Immediate medical condition should be sought in the following conditions:

  • If the symptoms persist for more than 10 days.
  • If there is high fever, which lasts for more than three days.
  • If the nasal discharge is green in color and the patient also has fever and sinus pain. The cause for this could be bacterial infection.
  • If the patient has asthma or emphysema, or is taking immune-suppressing medications.
  • If there is blood in the nasal discharge or if there is persistent clear discharge after an injury to the head.

In case of children, immediate medical attention should be sought if:

  • The child has fever and is younger than 2 months of age.
  • If the snotty nose in the baby is causing breathing difficulties and is not able to nurse due to this.

Conservative Measures for Snotty Nose in Adults & Children

  • Gently blow the nose using disposable tissues or a soft clean cloth.
  • If the discharge is persistent and watery and the patient has other symptoms, such as sneezing and watery/ itchy eyes, then allergy is the cause and over-the-counter antihistamines can be used.
  • Irritants, such as cigarette smoke, perfume, dust mite etc. should be avoided.
  • Sudden changes in temperature should be avoided
  • Always drink plenty of fluids including water.
  • Nasal saline sprays or rinses also help with the symptoms.
  • A humidifier can be used.

Home Remedies for Snotty Nose


Steam is a very good home remedy for a snotty nose. Steam also helps in clearing out the excess mucus which causes congestion and sneezing.

  • Keep your face over a bowl of hot water. Drape a towel over your head; this will help in trapping the steam.
  • Inhale the steam for about 10 minutes.
  • After this, gently blow your nose.
  • Repeat this three or four times a day.
  • This remedy is more effective when a few drops of menthol or eucalyptus oil are added into the hot water before inhaling the steam.

Salt Water

Salt water is a very effective home remedy for relieving snotty nose. It helps in thinning the mucus, so it can be expelled more easily. Salt water also helps in clearing the irritants from the nasal passages.

  • Take one-half teaspoon of table salt and mix it in two cups of distilled warm water.
  • Take a dropper to instill a few drops of this salt water solution into each nostril. Keep your head tilted back.
  • Gently inhale to draw the solution into the nasal passages.
  • After this, gently blow your nose. This will remove the excess solution with mucus.
  • Repeat this a few times till symptoms improve.


Turmeric has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antiviral and antibacterial properties. This makes the turmeric a very effective home remedy in treating a snotty nose as well as a cold.

  • Take one-half teaspoon of dry, ground turmeric and soak it in a cup of linseed oil. Place the mixture over heat till it starts to smoke. Slowly inhale this smoke through one nostril and then the other. Repeat this twice a day.
  • Another remedy is to add one-half teaspoon of turmeric powder into some water or lukewarm milk and drink this twice a day. This will help in loosening the mucus, and will also give relief from cough, cold, and asthma. A pinch of black pepper can also be added to the milk along with turmeric.

Mustard Oil

Mustard oil as a home remedy for snotty nose has antihistamine, antibiotic and antiviral properties, which help in providing instant relief from the symptoms of snotty nose.

  • Add one tablespoon of caraway seeds and two to three tablespoons of mustard oil into a pot of boiling water. Slowly inhale the steam. Repeat this twice a day. This remedy helps in warming up the respiratory system and provides immediate relief from a snotty nose.
  • Take a small amount of mustard oil and heat it till it is slightly warm. With the help of a dropper, instill one or two drops of the mustard oil in each nostril. Repeat this 2 to 3 times a day. This remedy will clear up the nasal passages in no time.


Ginger too has lot of antioxidants along with antiviral, antifungal and antitoxic properties and is an effective home remedy in providing immediate relief from snotty nose.

  • Sprinkle some salt on small pieces of raw ginger and chew these several times a day. This helps in alleviating a snotty nose.
  • Add one teaspoon of ginger powder into two cups of water and boil it. Slowly inhale the steam for relief.
  • Place thin slices of ginger root in a cup of water and let it boil for some time to make a ginger tea. A little honey can be added for taste. Drink this ginger tea about three or four times a day for relief from snotty nose.
  • Ginger lozenges are available in the market which can be taken to prevent and alleviate a snotty nose.


Garlic too has strong antiseptic and antibacterial properties, which makes it a wonderful home remedy for snotty nose.

  • Chewing a small piece of garlic about three or four times a day helps in warming the body and relieving snotty nose.
  • Drinking garlic soup is beneficial. Chop three to four cloves of garlic and boil them in a cup of water for some minutes. Strain this solution, you can add some sugar for taste and drink the garlic soup twice a day.
  • You can also take garlic supplements to prevent or cut down on the frequency of a snotty nose.

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Written, Edited or Reviewed By:


Last Modified On: July 6, 2016

Pain Assist Inc.

Pramod Kerkar
  Note: Information provided is not a substitute for physician, hospital or any form of medical care. Examination and Investigation is necessary for correct diagnosis.

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