Yes, Your Nose Can Get Infected (and Not Just With a Cold)

Yes, Your Nose Can Get Infected (and Not Just With a Cold)


If your nose is giving you problems that you can't shake, it may not be the common cold. It may be a nasal infection. In addition to common ailments like sinus infections and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infection, there are less common nasal infections you should be aware of that could be much more serious – even deadly.

Allergic Fungal Sinusitis (AFS)

Fungal sinusitis is less common and harder to treat than bacterial sinusitis (aka the familiar sinus infection). Allergic fungal sinusitis comes from a fungus in the sinus and involves a chronic sinus infection with nasal polyps. People who have AFS tend to have severe nasal congestion and difficulty smelling. Many report brown or black nasal discharge. 

Surgery is typical for AFS, and recurrence is prevented by medical treatment, including oral corticosteroids, saline irrigation, nasal corticosteroid sprays, and allergy shots.

Invasive Fungal Sinusitis

While allergic fungal sinusitis is confined to the sinuses, invasive fungal infections can spread to surrounding tissue, such as soft tissue, bone, eyes, and brain. These infections, which target people with compromised immune systems can be acute or chronic, may become life-threatening. Common symptoms include nosebleeds, fever, facial pain, eye swelling, and even blindness. 

These infections are treated with surgical removal of the fungal infections and administration of antifungal medications. The problem of the suppressed immune system – which may come from cancer, chemotherapy, or uncontrolled diabetes mellitus – must also be addressed for a good prognosis for recovery from an invasive fungal infection.

Nasal Vestibulitis

Nose picking or excessive nose blowing could result in nasal vestibulitis, a bacterial infection of the nasal vestibule. In the acute infection, the nasal skin is red, tender, and swollen. Crusting occurs in chronic vestibulitis. The crusting will lead to bleeding when the crusts slough off. This condition can be treated by topical application of bacitracin or mupirocin ointment, and application of hydrogen peroxide with a cotton ball.

See Your Doctor

If your nose is giving you problems beyond what seems normal for a cold, your doctor can give you the best answers. It may be that you have a common, minor nasal infection, but you could have something much more serious that may become harder to treat if you don't get help in a timely manner. Many ailments involving the nose can make you think you just have a cold, but prolonged or unusual symptoms should never be ignored.

Publication Date: (7 years)
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