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What causes painful sores in the nose?

It may be irritating to get painful sores in the nose, but they are generally nothing to worry about. Rarely, however, these sores can signal an underlying health issue.

This article discusses health conditions that lead to sores in the nose, the available medications, and when to see a doctor.

What do they look and feel like?

sores in the nose

On the skin within the nose, sores or ulcers can develop, and if a person can see them, they can resemble small pimples or scabs. They might be red , white, or yellow.

The skin inside the nose may be damaged or irritated by any number of causes, triggering these sores. While they are often unpleasant or painful, they are typically no cause for concern.

However, in some situations, a sore inside the nose may indicate an underlying health issue.


Find out below about the mild and more extreme problems that can lead to nasal sores and other signs to look out for.


In response to trauma, sores in the nose typically develop, such as a scratch inside the nose, especially if an infection develops.

Picking the nose can irritate or break the skin, contributing to sores, and inhaling drugs through the nose can have the same effect. Nose sores and scabs, such as from a fall or a blow to the face, may also arise from more serious injuries.

An individual can also feel pain and swelling in the region when nose sores stem from trauma.


Within the nose, various infections can cause sores. Among them are nasal vestibulitis, a common bacterial infection.

As with nose piercings, picking the nose, plucking nose hair, or blowing the nose excessively may expose the body to bacteria that cause nasal vestibulitis.

Pain, swelling, and tenderness in the area can be among the symptoms.

Moreover, within the nose, the bacterial infection tuberculosis ( TB) can develop sores or ulcers.

TB-responsible bacteria can spread through the air. Some individuals with the infection have no symptoms, while others encounter:

  • a persistent cough that lasts 3 weeks or longer
  • chest pain
  • coughing up blood or phlegm from deep within the lungs
  • weakness
  • extreme tiredness
  • a loss of appetite
  • chills, sometimes with a fever
  • night sweats


Lupus is an inflammatory disease that causes pain and inflammation. From time to time , some people grow mouth and nose sores or ulcers.

Everyone with lupus has multiple symptoms, and they can occur anywhere in the body. Symptoms may include:

  • extreme tiredness
  • painful, swollen joints
  • swollen hands and feet
  • swelling around the eyes
  • headaches
  • chest pain
  • sensitivity to sunlight
  • sensitivity to fluorescent light


A term that refers to inflammation in the blood vessels is vasculitis. It prevents the blood from supplying oxygen and nutrients efficiently, and it can develop in any of the blood vessels of the body.

The symptoms depend on the position of the blood vessels that are inflamed, but vasculitis can cause sores to form in the nose or mouth when those in the face are affected.

People may also experience:

  • muscle pain
  • joint pain
  • a fever
  • a loss of appetite and weight loss
  • a headache
  • weakness


In rare cases , the outcome of paranasal sinus and nasal cavity cancer is a sore inside the nose that does not go away.

Other symptoms can include:

  • a persistent stuffy nose
  • a persistent runny nose
  • sinus infections that keep returning or do not get better
  • headaches
  • sinus pain
  • face, eye, or ear pain
  • swelling in the face
  • teary eyes
  • vision loss
  • tooth pain or numbness
  • tooth loss


The correct solution depends on the cause of the sores. In a couple of days, uninfected sores and scabs usually clear on their own. As they heal, it is necessary not to scratch or pick at the sores.

Doctors generally need to treat bacterial infections with antibiotics, and TB can be fatal without treatment — which usually involves taking a combination of drugs for about 6–9 months.

With no treatment, lupus is a long-term disease. The symptoms appear to come and go over time and the treatment requires taking medications to relieve the symptoms, such as steroids and immunosuppressants.

If the sores are caused by paranasal sinus and nasal cavity cancer, the recovery plan usually requires a combination of chemotherapy , radiation therapy, and surgery.

Symptom relief

Nasal sores often resolve on their own or with minimal treatment. In the meantime, the following can help ease discomfort:

  • taking over-the-counter pain relief medication
  • applying a soothing product, such as petroleum jelly
  • avoiding further irritation, such as picking at or rubbing the area

When to see a doctor

An individual may wish to see a doctor if nasal sores last more than a couple of days.

This is particularly relevant when there are other signs of a health problem, such as any symptoms of TB, lupus, or cancer.


The skin is sensitive inside the nose and is easy to harm or irritate. This may give rise to sores or scabs. These usually go away on their own.

It is important to talk to a doctor if the sores are persistent, and especially if any other symptoms are present.

Chukwuebuka Martins

Chukwuebuka Martins is a writer, researcher, and health enthusiast who specializes in human physiology. He takes great pleasure in penning informative articles on many aspects of physical wellness, which he then thoroughly enjoys sharing to the general public.