How to use nose drops & sprays

Also called nasal drops and nasal sprays

Nose drops and nose sprays are used when medication needs to work directly in the nose.

They are commonly used to:

How to use nose drops 

To get the most benefit use the correct technique. This ensures you receive the right amount of medication. Ask your healthcare provider to show you. The following steps are a guide:  

  • Gently blow your nose with a tissue to clear the nostrils.
  • Tilt your head back while sitting on a chair or lying down.
  • Hold the dropper over one nostril and squeeze the required number of drops.
  • Keep your head tilted for a few minutes.
  • Repeat the steps for the other nostril.
  • Wipe the dropper with a clean tissue after each use.

If you can’t put the drops in yourself, ask a family member or friend to help you.

How to use a nasal spray

The following steps are a guide:

  • Shake the nasal spray before use.
  • Gently blow your nose with a tissue to clear the nostrils.
  • Use your finger to close the nostril on the side not receiving the medication.
  • While keeping your head upright, place the spray tip into the open nostril.
  • Spray the medication into the open nostril as you breathe in through your nose.
  • Sniff hard a few times to be sure the medication reaches deep into the nose.
  • Repeat the steps for the other nostril.
  • Wipe the spray tip with a clean tissue after each use.
  • Replace the cap after each use.

Using nasal spray in children

Giving nasal spray to children can be tricky. The following steps are a guide:

  • Reassure your child that this may feel a bit uncomfortable but it will not hurt.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water.
  • If your child is old enough, get them to gently blow their nose.
  • Gently block one of your child's nostril by pushing on that side of the nose.
  • Insert the spray nozzle into the other nostril, as far as is comfortable for your child.
  • Have your child tilt his head forwards slightly.
  • Press the plunger down so that it sprays the medicine up, into the nostril. 
  • If you have to use the spray in the other nostril, repeat the process in the other nostril.  
  • Your child may complain of an unusual taste in the mouth - offer them a drink of water. 

More about nose drops & sprays

  • Sometimes the nose drops or spray leave an odd taste in your mouth. If this happens, have a drink to wash the taste away.
  • Nose drops or spray should not be used for longer than stated on the label. They can become dirty and infected. It is a good idea write the date you open the bottle on the label so you will know when to throw it away.

Learn more

How to use nose drops properly Safe Medication, US
How to use nose drops Patient Info, UK
How to use nasal sprays properly Safe Medication, US
How to use nasal pump sprays properly Safe Medication, US

Credits: Sandra Ponen, Pharmacist. Reviewed By: Angela Lambie, Pharmacist, Auckland Last reviewed: 14 May 2017