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Itchy, Runny Nose from Allergies: Causes, Symptoms and Relief

An itchy nose can be really irritating, especially when it leads to a runny nose and sneezing at inconvenient times. Whether you’re in the office, relaxing at home or driving somewhere, it’s never ideal.

But what causes it?

When exposed to foreign substances, your nose produces extra mucus to trap and keep the substances out of the lungs. When this happens, that mucus can irritate your airways and lead to an itchy, runny nose1.

In fact, some of the main nasal symptoms you may experience due to nose allergies can include2.

  • Runny nose and sneezing
  • Itchy nose
  • Stuffy, congested nose

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.

Find out more about whether your symptoms may be due to a cold or an allergy.

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 symptoms4. These common reactions are part of your body’s defense mechanism against foreign substances, such as allergens. When you breathe in an allergen through your nose:

  • You might feel a tickle in your nose, which may cause you to scrunch up your nose
  • Your nose could feel dry and itchy, or it may be moist with mucus, causing a runny nose

A runny or itchy nose is usually triggered as your body’s immune system reacts to an allergen2. To most people, these allergens are harmless, but if you have an allergy your body may think such an irritant is intruding. To protect you, it produces a chemical known as histamine, which can cause the mucus membranes in your nose to inflame.

Another way your nose fights off allergens is by trapping the intruding particles to keep them out of your lungs, which may cause an itch3. It also produces more mucus to flush them out, resulting in a runny nose and sneezing.

Other Common Nasal Allergy (Allergic Rhinitis) Symptoms

Aside from an itchy, runny nose, there are various other potential signs that you may have allergies. Common allergic rhinitis symptoms may also include4:



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 around the nose

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 spores being more present in the air
  • Perennial allergies – symptoms for these allergies can occur throughout the year, as allergens are constantly produced or in the air, either inside or outside

When it comes to allergens, some of the most common itchy and runny nose causes can include5:



Grass, tree, weed, and other pollen are common triggers for allergies4. Depending on the pollen you’re allergic to, it may only affect you during certain seasons however

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 sneezing6

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 just fur itself, but the protein in animal dander or dead skin cells around the house, that may cause allergy symptoms to flare up

Bugs & insects

Bugs & insects

Similar to dust mites, the feces, saliva and dead body parts of certain insects can be a common trigger for allergies too7

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

Neti pot

Use a neti pot


Take antihistamines

Air conditioner

Turn on your air conditioner


Check the weather

Clothes and bedding

Clean your clothes and bedding

Home Remedies and Lifestyle Measures

  • 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 (homemade or prepared), 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.

Allergy Medicines

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:

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, too4.

When you experience any of the following severe nasal allergy symptoms, alongside an itchy or runny nose, be sure to seek the advice of a medical professional9:

  • Severe pain
  • Visual disturbance
  • Bleeding


What causes a tickle in one nostril?

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, or just dirt in the air. If your nostril membrane gets too dry when you’re sick or it’s hot, this may also lead to a tickling sensation.

How long do nasal allergies last?

Nasal allergy symptoms can last for several weeks – longer than the average cold5. It usually depends 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. Medical relief with antihistamines is a common way to provide relief.


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