Make it stop! Why does my nose tickle?
January 6, 2010 8:35 PM   Subscribe

I-am-not-a-doctor-filter: Why does the tip of my nose keep tickling?

I know… most of you aren't doctors, but a lot of you can play one on mefi.
For nearly a week, I have had a very annoying sensation. It feels like there is a hair or fuzz on the tip of my nose off to one side, but there isn't. Itching it distracts from it, but doesn't eliminate it. It doesn't feel that way all the time, just every now and then.
I have tried exfoliating and moisturizing, to no avail.
I'm starting to think it could be some weird symptom of impending doom.
Can anyone advise?
posted by grieserm to Health & Fitness (26 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I get some weird tickling sensations on my face whenever an allergy is acting up on me. Particularly a spot between my chin and lower lip, on the left side. But I've also had it on the tip of my nose a few times. This can precede sneezing (from said allergy) but not always. I have prescription nose spray for the allergies that alleviate that.

Just a thought.
posted by empyrean at 8:39 PM on January 6, 2010

I also get an itchy nose from my allergies and it's pretty much just like you describe. Annoyingly the nasal spray isn't enough for this particular part of the allergy for me so I have to take antihistamine tablets too. Both are prescribed and my doctor isn't at all surprised or worried by my symptoms, apparently they're pretty standard. Scratching doesn't help long term, I just end up scratching all the skin off then the raw bloody area still itches.

Allergies can appear as you grow older but also maybe there's something new in your area? Something flowering that wasn't before? Extra mould or damp about? I got an itchy nose every time I used this one bench in our lab, which I thought was psychosomatic because I use really toxic chemicals over there so knew I couldn't touch my face. Then the ceiling tiles were replaced, removing a mouldy patch, and voila, itch free experiments. It was a small area a long way off and the itch was really specific, just on the tip and one side of my nose, so allergies can be weird.
posted by shelleycat at 8:48 PM on January 6, 2010

Oh yeah, when mine gets really bad I buy antihistamine cream. It's designed for bug bites but rubbing it on the itchy part of my nose works quite well.
posted by shelleycat at 8:49 PM on January 6, 2010

This is outside my nose, not inside. Would nasal spray help? It feel just like when a hair ends up on your face. It is a very peculiar thing.
I might have to try some antihistamine.
posted by grieserm at 8:51 PM on January 6, 2010

You're a dude, mid 20's.

I know it feels like it's on the outside of your nose, but... when was the last time you've trimmed your nose hairs?

Otherwise, any flaking or general dryness from the cold weather? Couldn't hurt trying a facial moisturizer.
posted by porpoise at 9:00 PM on January 6, 2010

porpoise, thanks for the suggestion, but I tried manscaping, too. No luck. My skin is not dry, either. I moisturize my face daily.
posted by grieserm at 9:03 PM on January 6, 2010

I have a point on the outside of my left ear that constantly itches, but it's not skin related. Scratching doesn't touch the itch. It's like the itch is deeper under the skin. My doctor said it's a nerve that's basically misfiring and telling my brain there is something tickling there when there isn't and to try to ignore it. Not the most comforting advice, but it sounds like you could have something similar. Mine started about 2 years ago.
posted by cecic at 9:12 PM on January 6, 2010

This is outside my nose, not inside.

Yup, me too. The spray is either a steroid or a antihistamine that works to stop the allergic reaction. It's somewhat localised in that it works best right where you've sprayed it but the drugs do go systemic to some extent too. So spraying the active ingredient inside your nose is often enough to stop the itching on the outside of your nose, but maybe not to stop an allergic reaction on your hand for example. Unfortunately my itch is really hard to treat so when it hits the spray isn't enough (I actually have permission from my Dr to take double the standard antihistamine tablet dose for this), although the spray does a good job of keeping down my nasal congestion. It might be enough for you.

Either way antihistamine spray or tablets or cream can be bought OTC and is unlikely to hurt if it's not an allergy, so might as well give it a try.
posted by shelleycat at 9:15 PM on January 6, 2010

I have migraines, and one of the symptoms I get around those is the feeling that a single hair is being lightly dragged across my left cheek, always in the same spot. It is disconcerting, and it sounds similar to your experience. Bodies do some crazy things.
posted by thebrokedown at 9:18 PM on January 6, 2010

Would nasal spray help? It feel just like when a hair ends up on your face. It is a very peculiar thing.
I might have to try some antihistamine.

My nasal spray is Astelin, which I think is the only spray with an antihistamine rather than corticosteroid, so yes, it does help with the itching. Otherwise yeah, I'd need a pill of some kind.
posted by empyrean at 9:21 PM on January 6, 2010

Somewhat related, but I have recurring experiences of the "burning ears" syndrome
and it drives me up the wall. After many years of trying to discover the biological basis for my problem, the only 'medical' advice I have ever received is:
"Someone is thinking about you!" So I just try to ignore it.

Anti-histamine topical cream might work in your case, and I hope it does, because I am stuck with my curse. Human bodies are weird.
posted by at the crossroads at 12:36 AM on January 7, 2010

It means someone, somewhere is talking about you. You need to get them to stop.
posted by devnull at 12:46 AM on January 7, 2010

Try taking an antihistamine pill.
I have an allergy to wool. Before I knew that, I had weird symptoms. I was at a farm show and my nose (the outside part, not the inside part) felt all greasy. I kept on rubbing it. A few years later, my wife took up weaving (raw wool) and I started getting the same reaction. After I got tested for allergies, it turned out that I was sensitive to a number of allergens, including wool. Try an antihistamine pill and see if your problem goes away.
It might help to keep a diary of when the problem occurs, what you are eating, what cosmetics, soaps you are using, and so on. There might be a pattern and an allergist will find the diary of use in determining what is causing the problem. If, as has been suggested, it is related to migraines, then a diary is also quite valuable in determining what the trigger is.
posted by PickeringPete at 2:58 AM on January 7, 2010

Do you smoke? Back in university I used to smoke so much it started to affect circulation in my extremities. This started as a tickle in the tip of my nose that gradually became a tingle. When it spread to my fingers and toes I cut back.
posted by stuck on an island at 5:02 AM on January 7, 2010

at the crossroads,
My girlfriend gets the same burning ear thing. We are a strange couple, evidently.

Thanks for all the advice. I'll start noting the circumstances around the feeling, and try some antihistamine cream.

I'll update if anything revolutionary happens.
posted by grieserm at 5:03 AM on January 7, 2010

stuck on an island-
I do not smoke, but I was afraid of some circulation or nerve issue being the cause. I'll keep that in mind.
posted by grieserm at 5:05 AM on January 7, 2010

As ridiculous as this sounds, try overriding the itching sensation by causing a bit of pain to the area. Itch and pain signals travel along the same neural pathways, the idea being the pain signal runs at a higher frequency that can interrupt and, overwhelm the itch signal.
posted by squeak at 7:43 AM on January 7, 2010

You're right, that does sound ridiculous. Scratching makes it go away, but it comes back. I'm sure the pain method works too, but I don't see that as a long term solution.
posted by grieserm at 8:22 AM on January 7, 2010

I just wanted to confirm the allergy thing: I also get that weird tingling on the outside tip of my nose as an allergy symptom. The weird thing is that when that happens, I'm not usually having any other symptoms, so it took me forever to identify it as an allergy problem. (although, I also second the migraine link- I get migraines too, and I will get all kinds of weird symptoms beforehand) I would really recommend an antihistimine tablet though, not cream. Over the counter claritin would be my recommendation- it won't make you sleepy.
posted by Eicats at 9:30 AM on January 7, 2010

I get this too, in one small spot at the tip of my nose. I have a theory, which is mostly unsupported by anything as mundane as data (theories are more fun that way), that it's a food allergy. When I was in college my nose-tip would get insanely tickly/itchy within an hour after I ate a specific dish served in the dorm cafeteria. Every time they served that dish, bam - my nose would light up. Since it was just some kind of chicken without anything obviously unusual, I assumed it was a reaction to some mega-dose of MSG. (People get lots of weird reactions to MSG, why not an itchy nose?)

No other food has prompted such an intense reaction, but I still get the tickles occasionally when I eat stuff I haven't cooked from scratch. Since MSG is pretty much everywhere, I defy anyone to disprove my theory. Nyah nyah.

In the interests of science I feel obliged to disclose that I don't always get the nose reaction even when I eat stuff that is known to contain MSG, but I maintain that it's a dose-response effect. So there.
posted by Quietgal at 9:56 AM on January 7, 2010

try overriding the itching sensation by causing a bit of pain to the area

I don't think the poster was envisioning a swift punch in the face, but have you ever tried, say, pushing a fingernail edge into an aggravating mosquito bite, that would be itchy until scratched raw? It really, really helps.
posted by whatzit at 1:34 PM on January 7, 2010

but have you ever tried, say, pushing a fingernail edge into an aggravating mosquito bite, that would be itchy until scratched raw? It really, really helps.

For about ten minutes. Then you're back to itching. See my first answer, I've literally scratched my nose raw so there is no skin left and it scabs and is gross and the itch just comes right on back. Itches are annoying that way. This is makes sense scientifically too, the pain signal can only block the itch signal while pain is present, it does nothing to stop the cause of the itch. I'm very allergic to mosquitoes and I used to resort to burning the bites with boiling water for the ten minutes respite that gave me, which clearly isn't a good idea or tenable long term. Then I found the antihistamine cream and oh god, sweet sweet relief.

If this is an allergy the itch is mediated by histamine. Blocking the histamine will make it go away. No pain necessary. If it's not an allergy then an antihistamine won't do anything and the OP can look at other causes. Keeping a diary is a great idea too by the way.

For the cream to work you have to smear on a pretty thick layer then leave it to soak in. It takes up to 20 minutes to stop itching and you have to not touch it in the meantime, difficult I know, and just give the cream a chance to work. A systemic pill is easier but not everyone tolerates antihistamines (for example, certain supposedly-non-drowsy types make me sleepy even at a very low dose) so the cream might be a good way to try it out. Plus where I live it's a lot cheaper.
posted by shelleycat at 2:13 PM on January 7, 2010

I've also read that an itchy nose can be caused by fungus or rosacea. Don't know anything about either of those though.
posted by y6t5r4e3w2q1 at 8:32 PM on January 7, 2010

I don't think the poster was envisioning a swift punch in the face

I wasn't thinking that at all. More along the lines of a tap, slap, poke, pinch ... just enough to smart.

For about ten minutes. Then you're back to itching.

My winter itch is like that and, its best not to scratch at all because it just makes it worse, but I also have trichodynia and, for that a slap or two or three and, the burning itch goes away. Btw for that matter, capsicum cream or, menthol might also stop the itch. I figured it couldn't hurt to suggest it.
posted by squeak at 8:58 PM on January 7, 2010

In case anyone is wondering, the itch disappeared when I quit using the new exfoliating wash to try and fix it!
posted by grieserm at 3:31 PM on January 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

Yay! Either you were allergic to something in the wash or it just plain irritated your poor nose. Whatever, doesn't matter because stopping doing something is a cheap, easy fix.
posted by shelleycat at 4:37 PM on January 11, 2010

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