10 home remedies to stop a runny nose from cold, flu, or allergies

10 home remedies to stop a runny nose from cold, flu, or allergies
Runny noses can be caused by allergies to mold, pet dander, and more.princessdlaf/Getty Images
  • To stop a runny nose due to allergies, your best bet is to take an antihistamine.
  • To get rid of a runny nose with a cold or flu, drink plenty of fluids and use a humidifier.

If you have a runny nose, chances are you're suffering from rhinitis. Rhinitis is an inflammation of the nasal passages, which often comes with a side of congestion, nasal discharge, sneezing, an irritated throat, cough, and fatigue.

If your runny nose is due to allergic rhinitis — allergies — then it's best to take an antihistamine.

But if your runny nose is caused by non-allergic rhinitis — for example, a virus like the cold or flu — then there are many other methods that can you help you find relief.

Blow your nose

Make sure to blow through one nostril at a time. Otherwise, you can generate pressure that shoots the mucus into your sinuses instead of draining them out.

Drink plenty of fluids

This can help keep your nasal tissues moist, which can loosen any congestion.


Keeping hydrated will also help your body to fight off any infections or viruses which could be causing your runny nose. According to John Hopkins Medicine, dehydration can lead to dry mucus membranes, which worsens congestion.

Use a humidifier

While a humidifier can make indoor allergies such as dust mite and mold allergies worse, too dry of a room can also irritate the nasal passages.

The goal is to keep the relative humidity of the home at around 40 to 50 percent. If it's higher than that, you create an environment wherein dust mites and mold will thrive.

Apply a warm, wet cloth

Putting a warm, wet cloth on your face several times a day can help relieve your sinuses, which might be irritated by the dry air.

Sinus inflammation can be extremely painful, and by adding warm light pressure, you will cause swelling to reduce and any symptoms to ease.


Try a nasal saline rinse

Using a nasal saline rinse can wash away allergens, viruses, and bacteria from the nose and help clear out any trapped mucus.

A nasal saline rinse can be a quick way to stop a runny nose, especially first thing in the morning and before sleep.

Keep your head propped up

When sleeping, try to keep your head elevated, as this allows for better drainage from nasal passages.

To elevate your head while sleeping, lay on your back and prop up your pillows. Using two pillows could make this easier.

Take decongestants

Decongestants dry out and shrink inflamed nasal passages. But overuse of decongestants can cause jitteriness and increased blood pressure. Doctors recommend using decongestants for no more than three to five days.


And if your rhinitis — allergic or non allergic — becomes chronic, this can increase your risk of getting a bacterial infection. If that happens, see a doctor who can prescribe you antibiotics.

Use steam

According to The Cleveland Clinic, using steam can help relieve your runny nose and have you breathing clearer.

The steam produced from warm showers, hot drinks, and steamers will help to soothe your nasal passages and reduce inflammation in your nasal passages and sinus cavities.

Note: To avoid the risk of burns, you may want to let water cool slightly before utilizing steam. You should also keep a distance from steam, instead of placing your face or hands directly in or in front of it.

Avoid possible irritants

Both allergic and non-allergic rhinitis can be made worse by irritants such as pet hair, dust and smoke. When suffering from symptoms, it is advised that these things are avoided.


However, we know this is not always possible, so wearing facemasks, regular hand washing and taking showers after exposure can assist with limiting their impact.

Use vapor rubs

Mentholated and herbal ointments, also known as vapor rubs, ease nasal congestion by increasing blood flow within your sinuses.

Packed full of potent herbs, these remedies are best used at night as they are strong-smelling.

Best runny nose medicine and remedies

We test and recommend the best cold remedies and humidifiers with the help of medical experts. Check out our picks:


What causes a runny nose?

There are two types of rhinitis: allergic and non-allergic. Allergic rhinitis is associated with allergies. When you have an allergy, your body releases a chemical called histamine, which triggers the mucous glands in your nose to ramp up production, causing a runny nose.


What causes allergic rhinitis?

  • Tree pollen
  • Grasses and weeds
  • Mold
  • Dust mites
  • Pet dander

What causes non-allergic rhinitis?

  • Viruses that cause colds and flu
  • Rapid temperature changes
  • Emotions like severe sadness
  • Hormones
  • Irritants such as strong fragrances and smoke

How long does a runny nose last?

A runny nose usually lasts anywhere between 7-10 days.

Insider's takeaway

A runny nose can be caused by allergies or things like a cold, temperature change, or irritants in the air.

To get rid of a runny nose, take allergy medicine, blow your nose, drink plenty of fluids, use a nasal saline rinse, and more.