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Can Allergies Cause a Runny, Itchy Nose?

Yes, allergies can be one of the leading causes of a runny, itchy nose – not to mention a range of other nasal allergy symptoms1. These common reactions are part of your body’s defense mechanism against foreign substances, such as allergens.

When exposed to an allergy trigger like pollen or dust, your immune system releases histamine, which makes your nose produce extra mucus to trap and keep allergens out of the lungs. Histamine also causes an itchy nose, runny nose and sneezing to try to get rid of the foreign substance2.

Such symptoms are common signs of hay fever – also known as seasonal allergic rhinitis. As this affects around one in five Americans3, you’re far from alone if you’ve experienced it.

Understand more about the causes, symptoms and itchy nose relief available with ZYRTEC® today.

Common Nasal Allergy (Allergic Rhinitis) Symptoms

Aside from an itchy, stuffy, or runny nose, there are various other potential signs that you may have allergies. Common allergic rhinitis symptoms may also include1:


Sneezing: Itchiness inside your nose can result in sneezing, in an attempt to get rid of the allergen.

Stuffy Nose

Stuffy Nose: This can cause a congested feeling, making breathing through the nose harder.

Postnasal Drip

Postnasal Drip: As your body produces more mucus to fight off allergens, it can run down the back of your nose and throat, creating the need to regularly clear it.

Sinus Congestion

Sinus Congestion: Fluids can become trapped in your sinuses due to inflammation, blocking them and increasing pressure and pain in the sinuses and nasal passages.

Tickle in Nose

Tickle in Nose: A light irritation may cause a slight itch, often resulting in a sneeze.

Understand more about common allergy symptoms.

Allergens that Can Cause Allergic Rhinitis Symptoms

There are two main categories of allergens that may be behind a reaction – seasonal or year-round allergies.

  • Seasonal allergies – these only cause allergic rhinitis symptoms at certain times of the year, usually due to certain pollen from trees or grasses being more present in the air.
  • Perennial allergies – symptoms for these allergies can occur throughout the year, as allergens such as dust or pet dander are constantly present in your space.

When it comes to allergens, some of the most common itchy and runny nose causes can include4:


Pollen: Grass, tree, weed, and other pollen are common triggers for allergies1. Depending on the pollen you’re allergic to, it may only affect you during certain seasons.

Mold and mildew

Mold and mildew: Indoor mold can be present throughout the year, especially where water collects in bathrooms and damp basements. Outdoor mold is also common on logs and leaves. Breathing in mold spores may lead to nose irritation and sneezing5.

Dust mites

Dust mites: Microscopic mites can live almost anywhere, even in the cleanest homes. When their feces attach to household dust, it can trigger an allergic reaction in some people.

Pet Dander

Pet dander: Contrary to popular belief, it’s not the fur itself, but the protein in animal saliva that collects on animal fur and skin, that may cause allergy symptoms to flare up.

Bugs and Insects

Bugs and Insects: Similar to dust mites, the feces, saliva and dead body parts of certain insects can be a common trigger for allergies too6.

Allergic Rhinitis Tips: How to Stop a Runny, Itchy Nose from Allergies

  • Use a neti pot7
  • Take antihistamines
  • Turn on your air conditioner
  • Track pollen conditions and avoid time outside on high pollen days
  • Wash your clothes and bedding

Home Remedies and Lifestyle Measures for a Runny, Stuffy Nose

  • Exercise right! Be sure to check the weather and go for a run when the pollen count is lower, avoid outdoor fitness when it’s windy, and consider steering clear of places with lots of trees and grass.
  • Use a neti pot8. This is a container filled with a saltwater solution , which you use to rinse mucus and allergens from your nasal cavity.
  • Clean sheets and pillowcases. This can help to remove indoor allergens like dust, and reduce the chance of triggering your  allergy symptoms at night. Additionally, be sure to keep pets out of the bedroom and discard old mattresses to help further reduce allergens.
  • Turn on your air-conditioner or a dehumidifier. Removing moisture from the air can help limit mold and mildew growth.
  • Track your allergy symptoms with our ZYRTEC® AllergyCast tool.

Allergy Medicines for Runny, Stuffy Nose

There are various over-the-counter (OTC) allergy medicines, also known as antihistamines, which can help relieve a runny or itchy nose.

ZYRTEC® products contain the antihistamine cetirizine, which works to relieve your allergy symptoms and provide 24-hour relief.

Explore the below ZYRTEC® antihistamine products, to see if one might be the best option to relieve your runny, itchy nose or stuffy nose:

When to See a Doctor

If medicine for an itchy nose isn't providing relief, or you experience side effects that are causing you concern, you should see a doctor. If you have another condition that may worsen your symptoms – such as nasal polyps, asthma, or a sinus infection – seeking medical advice is a good idea in general, too1.


What causes a tickle in one nostril?

Histamine released by the immune system can irritate nerves in the nose to cause itching. Your nostril has lots of tiny hairs inside it. These can catch tiny particles, which may lead to a tickling sensation – whether it’s an allergen such as dust and pollen.

How long do nasal allergies last?

Nasal allergy symptoms can last for several weeks – longer than the average cold4. Allergy symptoms depend on the allergen causing your symptoms, and how long you're exposed to it. Seasonal allergies will usually occur around the same time each year, and reactions may last for two to three weeks each time as long as the allergen or trigger is present. Taking antihistamines is a common way to get relief.

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