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How to use a corticosteroid nasal spray

Woman using a nasal spray

Corticosteroid nasal sprays (such as Flonase, Nasacort, and Nasonex) are used to help allergy symptoms like a runny or stuffy nose. They help reduce inflammation in the nose. They start working quickly, but it may be several weeks before you get the full effect. Here are some tips for using these sprays:

  • You may need to prime the sprayer before you use it. This means spraying it into the air a few times to make sure you get the right amount of medicine. Follow the directions on the label.
  • Blow your nose before you spray. This will help clear out your nostrils.
  • Gently sniff the medicine into your nose as you spray. Don't snort, or the medicine will go all the way into your throat where it won't do much good.
  • Aim the nozzle straight toward the outer wall of your nostril. This will help keep the medicine from irritating the inner walls of your nose, especially your septum (the wall that separates your left and right nostrils).
  • Don't blow your nose for 10 minutes or so after you spray. And try not to sneeze.
  • Clean your sprayer once a week. The label will tell you how.

Current as of: December 2, 2020

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Rohit K Katial MD - Allergy and Immunology

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