Protecting your nose from dry airplane air

saline-sprayLast month  I went to India, which requires 30 hours of travel time from Texas. The part of the country where I was staying is not too far from the coast, and relatively humid. You can imagine my surprise, then, when on third day there, in the middle of the office, my nose started bleeding heavily. It didn’t hurt, but was pretty scary. Plus, I didn’t know what to do–should I stay at my desk, where at least I wasn’t drawing attention to myself, but could possibly run out of tissue if the nosebleed lasted a long time? Or should I move to the ladies’ room where there is more privacy and plenty of tissue, but possibly cause a spectacle on the way? I ended up staying at my desk  as long as possible, but eventually moved to the restroom when no one was looking.

The next day during the flight home, my nose started bleeding again. A flight attendant was able to get me some tissues and I ran to the nearby lav, where I stayed until it stopped. But for Pete’s sake–what was going on?? When I was a kid I would get frequent nosebleeds, which the doctor blamed on bad allergies, but eventually they stopped. In my twenties I tried to use nose sprays for said allergies, which ironically created nosebleeds. Sigh. Evidently I have a very sensitive nose, which is exacerbated by dry airplane air.

After I posted about my comfort bag for international trips, I several comments and emails about something I had missed–a nasal moisturizer. Since my experience on my trip, and with the dry winter air making an appearance around the country, I have vowed to add this to my arsenal for both domestic and international travel. Here are the recommendations:

Saline spray. I’ve used saline spray on several occasions, plus used baby versions with all of my kids. It’s readily available, inexpensive, and there are tons of options. I like Arm & Hammer Simply Saline Adult Nasal Mist, a good deal at under $6 for 1.5 oz.

Ayr. Ayr is a saline nasal gel recommended by several readers, and it has 4.5 stars on Amazon. While thicker than a saline spray, reviewers like its moisturizing power and how it’s not drippy. It’s super affordable ($2.84 for a .5 oz container) and small enough to make it through security.

I’ve got both of these in my purse for all of my winter travel. Plus a whole lotta tissues.

Readers, any other recommendations for protecting your nose from dry airplane air?


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  1. I’ve been taking petroleum jelly, in a tiny container along with q-tips that I would be taking with me on a trip. I try to keep my items small, but I’ll have to try these you mentioned.

  2. Wear a surgical mask. The heat from your own breathing is captured and it creates moisture in your sinuses. Plus it help you from getting sick.

  3. I tend to also wear a scarf around my nose as Tricia said above the heat from breathing keeps in moisture

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