Stinky nose - causes and countermeasures

Stinky nose - causes and countermeasures

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Stinky nose - a problem on many levels

The name alone suggests something very unpleasant. Those affected exude a foul, sweet smell from the nose, which they usually cannot perceive themselves. The cause of a stink nose (too Ozaena or Rhinitis atrophicans cum foetore ) is due to a destroyed nasal mucosa (atrophy of the mucous membrane). The mucous membrane is usually there to protect against germs, foreign bodies and dirt. However, if it is severely attacked, bacteria can nest in it, which spread and then ultimately lead to this unpleasant smell.

Cause: attacked nasal mucosa

The stink nose is divided into a primary and a secondary form. The primary arises from genetic predisposition, mostly already in puberty and women are particularly affected.

Various factors can be responsible for the secondary form:

  • Surgery or injuries in the area of ​​the nasal mucosa can destroy it.
  • Excessive use of nasal sprays is also one of the causes. Under no circumstances should these be used for longer than seven days. Decongestant nasal sprays or nasal drops that have been taken for a long time can firstly lead to addiction and secondly damage the mucous membrane in such a way that a stinky nose is formed.
  • In rare cases, malformation of the nasal septum is to blame for this unpleasant illness.
  • Furthermore, tumors of the nasopharynx can damage the mucous membranes. These are often treated with radiation therapy, which in turn can damage the nasal mucosa.


The destroyed nasal mucosa with the resulting shrinkage of the tissue opens the door and gates, which means that they can then multiply even more easily. These germs usually emit a nasty, sweetish to putrid smell, which relatives and those in close contact with those affected can perceive. Since most of the nerves in the nose are also damaged, those affected cannot smell this themselves. The atrophy of the mucous membrane enlarges the nasal cavity. Therefore, patients feel as if their nasal breathing is disabled, which often encourages them to use a nasal spray. Frequent nosebleeds and a purulent nasal secretion can also occur. The whole thing is accompanied by crusts and bark that form in the nose.

Above all, those affected suffer from the fact that their close neighbors can no longer stand the stench. Otherwise, the smelly nose is nothing more than a cold for the patient. Because of the unpleasant smell, those affected withdraw and social and professional problems can result.


Unfortunately, a stink nose cannot be healed. However, if it is not treated at all, this leads to permanent damage to the nasal mucosa and it regresses more and more. This dehydration can also spread to other mucous membranes, such as in the throat, in the trachea or, in the worst case, in the lungs. The atrophy of the nasal mucosa can even, in rare cases, lead to the destruction of tissue and bone structures.

Moisture is the top priority when treating a stinky nose. The occurrence of bark and crusts, which can destroy tissue in the long run, must be counteracted. The use of seawater nasal spray helps to moisturize the nasal mucosa. This spray does not damage, but only moisturizes. To support the healing of the affected mucous membranes, oily nasal sprays or nasal drops are recommended. Also nasal ointments that contain a healing agent are a good option. Regular use of the nasal douche reduces the incrustations. Under no circumstances may decongestant nasal drops be used.

In addition, the regeneration of the nasal mucosa can be supported by taking nutritional supplements that contain vitamins A and E and zinc.
The ear, nose and throat doctor removes annoying bark and crusts. In very extreme cases, surgery can be considered. The nasal cavity is reduced.

Other causes

Another cause of malodour is purulent inflammation in the nose. With sinus infections caused by dental problems, such smells are possible. There may also be foreign objects in the nose or infectious diseases such as nasal diphtheria, nasal tuberculosis and snot. To clarify the cause, those affected always belong in medical hands.

Prophylactic measures

One of the most important prophylactic measures is to avoid decongestant nasal drops. These can serve well for a few days if there is an acute infection, but must be stopped afterwards. Sufficient moistening is necessary for the nasal mucosa to function properly. You should avoid dry air in heated rooms. In a dry indoor climate, the use of sea salt spray helps. If the mucous membrane is very dry, oily drops, as already mentioned above, are recommended. The moisture must also come from the inside. Therefore, adequate hydration must be considered daily. Still water and herbal teas are particularly suitable for this. Inhalations with sea salt or the use of a nasal douche, both carried out regularly, have a positive effect. A vacation with a sea climate is recommended.

Interactions between different organs are known from the perspective of traditional Chinese medicine, but also from western naturopathy. So the connection between the airways and the intestine is an important factor. As a result, the diseases of the nasal mucosa are not only to be considered locally, but there may also be a connection with the digestive tract. Experienced therapists should therefore analyze the specific situation of those affected more closely. What you can do yourself is to ensure a healthy diet that guarantees an appropriate intestinal flora and the inflammation-promoting products such as

  • Meat (especially pork),
  • White flour,
  • Sugar,
  • Trans fats
  • and excludes alcohol.

Everything that serves to clean the intestines can have a positive effect on the nasal mucosa.

Treatment in naturopathy

Naturopathic practice is also a point of contact for people who are affected by a smelly nose, because in naturopathy they often find help. If it is women, it must be clarified whether the dryness of the nasal mucous membranes may be due to hormones, so that this treatment is in the foreground. Women in menopause suffer from dryness of the mucous membrane, not only in the nose, but also in the eyes, mouth and vagina. Pomegranate oil in capsule form, linseed oil and possibly the missing hormone in bioidentical form help here. Estriol in particular is the hormone that is important for the female mucous membranes.

Furthermore, Schüßler salts such as

  • No. 1 Calcium fluoratum (“softens everything that is hard and everything that is soft”),
  • No. 4 potassium chloratum (the agent for the mucous membranes)
  • or No. 8 sodium chloratum (the fluid balance).

Acupuncture is also a form of therapy with which a stink nose can be treated.
Become homeopathy

  • Luesinum for incrustations and foul-smelling secretions,
  • Potassium sulfuricum with thick, tough secretions
  • and potassium carbonicum in extreme drought

attributed a positive impact.

The following medicinal herbs have a positive effect on all mucous membranes in the body:

  • Mugwort,
  • Lady's coat,
  • Daisy,
  • Yarrow,
  • Deadnettle,
  • Pansies
  • and Sanikel.

A tea made from these herbs can help. However, please keep in mind that this herbal tea is not suitable for prolonged use. After about six to eight weeks, the composition is changed or simply a "tea break" is taken.

Final word

If suspected, those affected should go to a doctor's office to determine the causes. In any case, if nasal spray or nasal drops are misused, they must be stopped immediately. Moisturizing the nasal mucosa with sea salt and adequate hydration are essential. Since this disease can lead those affected to social withdrawal, psychosocial help may be advisable. (sw)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.

Susanne Waschke, Dr. med. Andreas Schilling


  • Achim Georg Beule: Functions and functional disorders of the respiratory mucous membrane of the nose and paranasal sinuses, Laryngo-Rhino-Otologie, (available on July 1st, 2019), Researchgate
  • Thomas Lenarz, Hans-Georg Boenninghaus: ENT, Springer-Verlag, 14th edition 2012
  • A. Lan Schumacher, Georg J. Ledderose, Peter Hahn (ed.), Karl-Joseph Paquet (ed.): Facts ENT, KVM - Der Medizinverlag, 1st edition, 2010
  • Michael Reiss: Specialist knowledge ENT medicine: Differentiated diagnostics and therapy, Springer-Verlag, 1st edition, 2009
  • Jürgen Strutz (ed.), Wolf Mann (ed.), Practice of ENT medicine, head and neck surgery, Thieme Verlag, 3rd edition, 2017

ICD codes for this disease: J31.0ICD codes are internationally valid encryption codes for medical diagnoses. You can find yourself e.g. in doctor's letters or on disability certificates.

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