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How to Get Rid of Bad Smell in Nose

by Dr. Joe Morales

Why do I have bad smell in the nose? How is mucus related to the bad smell?  What are some of the causes? How can you get rid of this bad odor in the nose?

If you have or encounter with someone with a bad smell especially in the nose can be very disgusting and a complete put off. This phenomenon could also make you feel so bad and uncomfortable in-front of your peers or company. It is mostly an embarrassment for people who have it to talk it out freely.

Bad smell in nose

Bad smell in nose

Bad smell in nose

It is a common happening where you expel air that has some characteristic odor from your nostrils. It can occur in both males and females. It is mainly characterized by a rotten flesh like smell emanating from the nose.

See also: Itchy nose meaning and superstition, remedies

In some cases, it comes with pressure above the temple area and around the ear on the left side of your head. You may be tempted to use a nose spray or even catarrh capsules but unfortunately they give quite temporary results before the problem recurs again.

Causes of bad smell in nose


This is a procedure that is sometimes called the nose job or cosmetic nose surgery. It is used to enhance facial harmony and the proportions of your nose. It can also be used to correct the impaired breathing caused by the structural defects in the nose.

The surgery is intended to correct some of the following issues of your nose:

  • Nose size in relation to facial balance
  • Nose width at the bridge or in the size and the position of the nostrils
  • Nose profile with visible humps or depression on the bridge
  • Nasal asymmetry
  • Nostrils that are large, wide or upturned
  • Nasal tip that is enlarged or bulbous, drooping, upturned or hooked

The bad smell after this surgery is caused by quite a number of factors. However, the best thing to do is always talk to your plastic surgeon over the problem. It is not always easy to point out the cause of the bad smell with ease.


The first reason could be because it is just crusting which can be treated with the help of a nasal spray. The other thing could be because you are having a problem with healing or the nose has developed some complication in terms of an infection.

The other thing that is very probable is that it could be from the sweating coming from bandaging or extraneous mucus that can be concentrated in the area. Blood accumulation and congestion in the nose could also lead to this. The plastic surgeon is always at the best position to tell you what the problem is.

Sinus surgery

This surgery is meant for you if you chronic sinus problems that most often do not respond to medical therapy. There is a likelihood of getting a bad and foul smell in the nose if after the sinus surgery, you develop an infection that is not treated.

There several complication that can occur in the event that you have undergone a sinus surgery which at the end might bring about foul smell in the nose. They may include:

Bleeding: some degree of bleeding on the nasal septum after the surgery is very normal. It most commonly occurs in the first 24 hours of the procedure although it can delay for several days or even weeks. If the bleeding leads to hematoma, which also could contribute to the smell, then its removal is very important.

There is a likelihood that the floor of the brain, where the septum attaches to the roof of the nose has a complication. If the bony tissue is fractured, then the brain fluid, the cerebrospinal fluid can leak to the nose, crust and then cause smell. There could also be an infection in the long run then adding to the smell.


A cold is an infection of that is caused by viral infection. There are several symptoms that accompany this:

  • Nasal congestion
  • Runny nose
  • Post nasal drip
  • Headache
  • Fatigue

To begin, nasal congestion is from the swelling of the sinuses, hollow spaces in your skull that are connected to each other. The swelling prevents the flow of mucus and hence this leads to the foul and bad odor. This could lead to sinus infection that is characterized by a lot of pain on the face and the eyes.


A runny nose is also a good promoter of the bad smell in your nose. This is because as the mucus runs down the throat, bacteria multiply and grow in this atmosphere thereby causing a very bad and foul smell.


Common cold is a factor that leads to the production of excessive mucus. This in return brings about thick deposits of mucus, a condition called post nasal drip. In normal cases, glands that line your nose and throat normally produce about two quarts of fluid in a day. When the mucus glands and nose produce less liquid, then the resulting secretions become thicker.

The mucus becomes a standing reservoir in the back of the throat that you will struggle to cough up often unsuccessfully. This is an ideal condition for the proliferation of anaerobic bacteria that lives in the throat in small quantities. There is presentation of various symptoms that vary from one person to another.

The symptoms in the case of post nasal drip from a cold include coughing, wheezing and running nose the difficulty in breathing, sore throat and the formation of tonsil stones at the back of the throat, where the tonsils stage the first line of defense against bacteria.

The mucus gets trapped in the tonsil folds and hence turning the tonsils into bacterial breeding grounds. This finally leads to a condition that is called tonsilloliths or tonsil stones, which are hardened particles of bacteria infested bacteria that has a very pungent and unpleasant smell.

The reason for the bad smell can be explained. This is because there is protein in the mucus and the bacteria feed on the amino acids cysteine and methionine that are found in the protein. As they feed, anaerobic respiration takes place and they produce metabolites that have a characteristic foul smell. Part of the smell is related to the sulfur in the amino acids which is a characteristic rotten egg smell.

Can sinus infection cause bad smelling mucus in nose?

Sinus infection is the colonization of the sinuses by foreign microorganisms leading to inflammation or swelling, normally filled with air. The truth is that this infection can cause bad smell in the nose. The inflammation makes them to become blocked and filled with bacteria which then grow. This inflammation is called sinusitis.

A sinus infection can start when you have a cold. Similarly, It could happen when you some condition that is known as deviated septum that refers to a shift in your nasal cavity. Your examining doctor should be able to prescribe for you the best remedy.

There are various symptoms that could tell you that you have a sinus infection:

  • Thick yellow or pain around your face and eyes
  • A cold that will not go away
  • Post nasal drip
  • Fever or cough
  • Blockage of your nose
  • Headache mainly on the forehead

There is a whole mechanism on how the inflammation of the sinus leads to the bad smell in the nose. The inflamed sinus clogs the nose and this creates a warm, moist environment which is the best culture medium for bacteria colonization. The bacteria in the mucus multiply fast.

The infection makes things to get worse in the nose. Your body starts an act of fighting the infection using the immune system response mechanism. The fight makes the body to respond by secretion of more mucus. The mucous membrane also dilates blood vessels.

The fight between the body’s immune system and the bacteria produces more inflammation and hence the nose becomes more clogged. The debris of dead bacteria and the white blood cells remain stuck in the nose and hence bad smell. The infection can be relieved if the inflammation is reduced as the sinuses are then drained.

The sinus infection can be seen and diagnosed by the help of medical history, clinical examination, x-ray of the paranasal sinuses or CT-scan. An x-ray would also reveal the presence of foreign material in the nose derived from the nasal septum.

How to get rid of bad smell from nose

There are two levels that can be used to approach the treatment of bad smell emanating from the nose. These are the use of simple home remedies, chemical approach and lifestyle or behavior changes. The approaches are explored based on the cause of the smell.

Bad smell from colds and nasal conditions

In order to treat bad smell from colds and nasal discomfort in general, the procedure is as follows:

  1. Combine half a clove of garlic with a teaspoon of cayenne (hot) pepper, the juice of one lemon, and a teaspoon of honey.
  2. Take this mixture three times daily.
  3. This does not guarantee the good smell but it will clear up the symptoms in a couple of days.
  4. You can also prepare a tea by placing one teaspoon each of cinnamon, sage, and bay leaves in hot water.
  5. Add a few squirts of concentrated lemon juice and drink.

Alternatively, another good remedy is made when you:

  1. Boil the leaves and flowers of borage (from your backyard garden or the local health food store) in a pan of water.
  2. Allow this to steep for 10 minutes, then strain and drink a cup of the extract three times each day.

There is yet another approach that can be used to treat cold in general. This to be done, you ought to:

  1. Mix one tablespoon each of yarrow, catnip, thyme, mint, sage, and verbena.
  2. After mixing well, place a teaspoon of the mix in a cup of boiling water for 10 minutes.
  3. Strain through cheesecloth and sweeten with a little honey.
  4. Drink three or four cups each day.
  5. It produces a result fast as it really makes you smell sweat. The profuse sweating caused by this remedy is what serves to drive out the cold symptoms.

Bad smell from stuffy nose:

In the case of a stuffy nose that forces you to breathe through your mouth and talk funny, explore the following procedure:

  1. Inhale the vapors of one grated horseradish.
  2. Alternatively, crush a clove of garlic in a cup of warm water and place a few drops of the garlic solution into each nasal passage.
  3. You could have chicken soup to which you may add garlic, parsley, and onion.
  4. Several good inhalants can be made right in your kitchen. One consists of a quarter cup of lemon thyme in a quart of water. Boil and inhale the steam.

On the other hand you can also make an effective vapor when you

  1. Add one ounce of chopped comfrey leaves or root to one cup of water.
  2. Boil this mixture and inhale the steam.
  3. To get the best results, cover your head and the basin with a towel.
  4. After that, you can also get good results by adding a half cup of vinegar to boiling water and inhaling the fumes.



Better still, you could:

  1. Place several cubes of ice in a basin of water and place only your toes in the water until they begin to feel numb.
  2. You won’t end up with frostbite, but it will serve to clear the nasal passages.

Bad smell in the nose from Sinusitis

  1. Mix together two cups of cold water with one tablespoon of Epsom salts and two teaspoons of bicarbonate of soda.
  2. Dip a clean cloth in the liquid and place over the sinus area.

You could also get rid of this when you,

  1. Dissolve a 500 mg vitamin C tablet in a quarter cup of warm water.
  2. Apply directly to the nostrils with an eyedropper.

Another method involves:

  1. Putting a teaspoon of dried rose petals in a cup of boiling water.
  2. Steep until cool, strain, and dip a cotton ball in the liquid.
  3. Apply this as a compress and place drops in the nostrils.

The could involve the following approach

  1. Eat two garlic cloves three times a day for a week.
  2. Sinuses should start draining after a few days.
  3. Admittedly this is a tough treatment to stay with, in that you must be careful not to get close to anyone during the week to give it time to heal.

Performing a nasal irrigation is also of benefit. To do this, simply

  1. Obtain a pre-mixed solution or make your own by mixing ½ teaspoon of non-iodized salt and one tea spoon of baking soda.
  2. Add one teaspoon of the resulting mixture to 8 ounces of distilled water or freshly boiled cool water

Chemical based prescribed medications

Normally in case of sinusitis the doctor prescribes a course of antibiotics to kill the bacteria, decongestants to liquefy mucus and saline nasal draining to keep the mucus lining of nose moist.

You may also need pain relieving medicine if there is associated pain around the orbits, on forehead, and the upper teeth. Surgery should be resort to cure smelly mucus in nose if there is a large polyp or extensive deviated nasal septum.

Use of alternative medicines can complement the main line treatment in many cases. In fact it ensures faster recovery. Patient needs to drink enough water and liquid to liquefy the thick mucus. Avoid drinking alcohol, excess of tea and coffee as they can dehydrate the body and aggravate the swelling of mucus lining.

There are some homeopathic medicines such as hepar sulph, Kali bich, pulsatilla, thuja, that are very effective in chronic sinusitis infection.

Lifestyle changes and daily practices

  • Avoid allergens that cause stuffy nose, such as dust, pollens, chemical fumes, etc. Use mask to cover your nose when you go out in pollutant areas where there is too much dust and smoke among other things
  • Do not eat sugar in excess; it can lead to stuffy nose.
  • Drink plenty of water. Proper intake of water helps to liquefy thick mucus.
  • Eat fruits and vegetable as they are rich source of vitamins, they help to build the immune system stronger and prevent frequent nasal stuffiness.
  • Put apple cider vinegar in a pan and heat until it begins to steam. Inhale this vapor; it will decongest the blocked nose.
  • Steam inhalation: Inhale the vapors of boiled water. This can relieve nasal stuffiness.
  • Use of black pepper and red pepper in food is useful as it stimulates the nasal secretions to flow. This is particularly helpful in sinusitis.

References and sources

  1. http://www.medhealthdaily.com/what-causes-bad-smell-in-nose/
  2. http://www.medhealthdaily.com/what-causes-bad-smell-in-nose/
  3. http://www.sorethroatremediesguide.com/bad-smell-in-nose-causes-and-treatment/
  4. http://www.thesinusdoctor.com/why-do-i-have-a-foul-odour-in-my-nose/
  5. http://www.webmd.com/cold-and-flu/cold-guide/cold-becomes-sinus-infection

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