Top Reasons for a Swollen Nostril
The nose is often thought of as merely part of the physical appearance of the face, but in reality has an important purpose; a purpose that can be disrupted if you are suffering from a swollen nostril. There are a couple of reasons for the condition that is largely preventable in most cases.
Part of the respiratory system, the nostrils can be considered the external air filters of the body. Twin flaps of skin covered cartilage join the face over the septum at the top and along the inner cheeks. As one of two air intakes for the body, the nostril filters and warms the air we breathe before it proceeds to the lungs. The filtering process occurs through small hairs that grow from the anterior nostrils; as air passes through these small hairs, debris and airborne particles are trapped by the hairs and held until sneezed or blown out.
Because of the continuous flow of air brought in and discharged through the nostrils, the delicate membranes of the inner walls of the nostril can become dry. Nasal secretions of mucus serve to keep these membranes moist the majority of the time, although there are a number of external and internal conditions that can alter this normal interior humidity. Arid climates, cold weather conditions, medical conditions such as colds or allergies and certain medications can detrimentally affect the natural moist environment within the nostrils.
Few problems afflict the nostrils themselves. The most frequent complaint is that of a swollen nostril, which could be the result of any one of several conditions including:
- Folliculitis. An infection that occurs to the root of the hair follicle is called folliculitis. It is commonly caused by bacteria called Staphylococcus aureus but other varieties of bacteria could also be to blame. This condition can occur anywhere on the body where hair grows, including the nostrils. It may initially be a painful, small area of swelling, and may itch as a small white pimple develops. These usually heal themselves within a few days, so they should be left alone. Picking at the pimple could spread the bacteria and cause further outbreaks.
- Dry nasal membranes. When the delicate membranes within the nostrils become excessively and chronically dry, the skin tends to split and bleed. Inflammation and swelling may develop as the body attempts to heal the split. A scab will develop but if dislodged by picking or harsh blowing of the nose the split will take longer to heal. The dryness could be caused by a cold, by seasonal allergies and by certain medications designed to dry up nasal discharge. Keeping the membranes lubricated by regular applications of oil or petroleum jelly or by spraying a saline solution into the nostrils will generally help. Relief may also be provided by using a humidifier to add moisture to the air.
- Swollen nostril turbinate. Within each nasal passage are small scroll shaped bone shelves that are called turbinates. Their function is to control air flow passage into the interior nasal cavity. These spongy bones are meant to change in size during certain condition, such as sinus infections, enlarged adenoids or as an allergic reaction. Swelling can interfere with breathing.
- Cancer. Cancerous cells can grow anywhere in the body. It is rare that cancer originates in the nasal cavity, although it is a possibility. In most cases, the cancerous cells travel to the nose from some other location in the body. Early stages often exhibit no symptoms, but swelling may occur in later stages.
The cause of swelling of the nasal cavities may be as plain as the nose on your face. If it is allergy season, or if the weather has turned extremely cold or dry, you may find that you need to help humidify the nose membranes. Taking these precautions can help to avoid painful swollen nostril conditions.