Rhinitis sicca, dry nose and atrophic rhinitis: a review of the literature

Eur Arch Otorhinolaryngol. 2011 Jan;268(1):17-26. doi: 10.1007/s00405-010-1391-z. Epub 2010 Sep 29.


Despite the fact that many people suffer from it, an unequivocal definition of dry nose (DN) is not available. Symptoms range from the purely subjective sensation of a rather dry nose to visible crusting of the (inner) nose (nasal mucosa), and a wide range of combinations are met with. Relevant diseases are termed rhinitis sicca anterior, primary and secondary rhinitis atrophicans, rhinitis atrophicans with foetor (ozena), and empty nose syndrome. The diagnosis is based mainly on the patient's history, inspection of the external and inner nose, endoscopy of the nasal cavity (and paranasal sinuses) and the nasopharynx, with CT, allergy testing and microbiological swabs being performed where indicated. Treatment consists in the elimination of predisposing factors, moistening, removal of crusts, avoidance of injurious factors, care of the mucosa, treatment of infections and where applicable, correction of an over-large air space. Since the uncritical resection of the nasal turbinates is a significant and frequent factor in the genesis of dry nose, secondary RA and ENS, the inferior and middle turbinate should not be resected without adequate justification, and the simultaneous removal of both should not be done other than for a malignant condition. In this paper, we review both the aetiology and clinical presentation of the conditions associated with the symptom dry nose, and its conservative and surgical management.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Diagnostic Imaging
  • Humans
  • Rhinitis / diagnosis*
  • Rhinitis / etiology
  • Rhinitis / physiopathology
  • Rhinitis / therapy*
  • Rhinitis, Atrophic / diagnosis*
  • Rhinitis, Atrophic / etiology
  • Rhinitis, Atrophic / physiopathology
  • Rhinitis, Atrophic / therapy*
  • Risk Factors