Symptoms of Nasal Vestibulitis
If you were to stick the tip of your finger in your nostril (something I know you would never do!), then you would be touching your nasal vestibule. The nasal vestibule is the area just inside the nostril. This area of your body, like all areas, is susceptible to infection. When the nasal vestibule becomes infected it's known as nasal vestibulitis.
So how would you know if you have nasal vestibulitis in one of your nostrils? Well, there are actually two types of nasal vestibulitis, and the symptoms of each differ slightly. Acute nasal vestibulitis, or an acute infection of the nasal vestibule, may cause the following symptoms:
- Pain or tenderness
- Collection of pus
On the other hand, chronic nasal vestibulitis, or chronic recurring infections of the nasal vestibule, may cause these symptoms:
- Induration, or thickening of the dermal layer of the nasal membrane
- Formation of crusts
It's important to understand that a person with chronic nasal vestibulitis may still have acute flare-ups in which the acute symptoms would be seen. The difference is that the person with chronic nasal vestibulitis has permanent changes to the nasal vestibules due to recurrent acute infections.
For example, let's say you get a bug bite. You exercise amazing self-control and never scratch it, and within days the acute symptoms of the bite (the red itchy bump) disappears; your skin returns to its original, smooth state. On the other hand, let's say you cannot stop yourself from itching the bug bite. Soon a scab forms, which you tear off with continued scratching. The red itchy bump is gone, but you still have a healing scab that, when it falls off, will reveal skin that is different from the surrounding skin. This is the same case with acute versus chronic nasal vestibulitis.
Causes of Nasal Vestibulitis
Nasal vestibulitis may be caused by several factors. Most often it's caused by an infection of the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus. However, certain cases of nasal vestibulitis have been linked to viral upper respiratory infections, chronic runny nose, or habitual nose picking.
The point is that all of these conditions cause a wearing down of the membrane lining the nasal vestibule, be it from a viral attack or the scraping of the nasal membrane by a fingernail. When something is worn down, it's more susceptible to infection and inflammation. The treatment of nasal vestibulitis depends upon the suspected cause and the severity.
Treatment of Acute Nasal Vestibulitis
Mild cases are often cleared up with warm compresses, daily cleaning of the area with a cotton swab soaked in hydrogen peroxide, and application of a topical ointment. If a bacterial source is suspected, then a topical antibacterial ointment may be applied directly to the affected nasal vestibule. If a viral source is suspected, then a topical steroid ointment may be used.
For severe infections, oral treatments are usually warranted. Either oral antibiotics or oral steroids may be used depending on the symptoms noted and the suspected source. Lastly, if the collection of pus is significant, a healthcare provider may need to incise or drain the area.
Treatment of Chronic Nasal Vestibulitis
For individuals who suffer from continual infections of the nasal vestibules, the most important treatment after clearing up the acute symptoms, is to find the underlying cause. For example, if seasonal allergies are giving the patient a chronic runny nose, which in turn is causing repeated bouts of nasal vestibulitis, then an allergy medication may be needed. Likewise, if nose-picking is the underlying reason, then behavioral modifications would be necessary.
Complications of Nasal Vestibulitis
While an infection of the nostrils may seem trivial, if the infection is not caught and treated in a timely manner, the ultimate result may be death. Yes, death. You see, the nasal vestibule is part of a complex sinus system that spreads across the entire skull. Therefore, the infection could travel from the nasal vestibule through the veins all the way to the brain causing a life-threatening condition known as cavernous sinus thrombosis.
In summary, nasal vestibulitis, or an infection of the area just inside the nostril, can be a significant ailment. There are two types of nasal vestibulitis, each with differing symptoms:
- Acute nasal vestibulitis - symptoms are pain or tenderness, redness, swelling of the area, or a collection of pus
- Chronic nasal vestibulitis - are recurring infections with symptoms including induration, or thickening, of the nasal membrane in the nasal vestibule; crust formation
Most often nasal vestibulitis can be treated with hot compresses, daily cleaning of the area, and a topical medication. However, severe infections sometimes necessitate oral therapies and/or incision and drainage. Severe cases of nasal vestibulitis are treated aggressively because it can lead to cavernous sinus thrombosis, a life-threatening condition. So the next time you're tempted to pick your nose, think of all the complications it could lead to and use a tissue instead!
Medical Disclaimer: The information on this site is for your information only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.
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Nasal Vestibulitis: True or False Activity
This activity will help you assess your knowledge of the symptoms, causes, treatment, and complications of nasal vestibulitis.
A scenario is presented below that shows symptoms that may or may not be related to nasal vestibulitis. From this scenario, determine whether the following statements are true or false. To do this, print or copy this page on a blank paper and underline or circle the answer.
1. The medical condition of the patient is known as nasal vestibulitis. True | False
2. Her condition was likely caused by a bacteria known as Streptococcus aureus. True | False
3. The left and right vestibule are always susceptible to infections. True | False
4. There is a significant formation of pus in her nose that needs to be incised and drained. True | False
5. There were signs of induration and crust formation in the patient's right nasal vestibule. True | False
6. To be exact, the patient is suffering from chronic nasal vestibulitis. True | False
7. Tenderness and redness of her right nostril are symptoms of acute nasal vestibulitis. True | False
8. The infected area may be cleaned by swabbing it with hydrogen peroxide. True | False
9. Her habitual nose picking has worn down the membrane lining of her nasal vestibule.True | False
10. A topical steroid ointment should be applied directly to her affected nasal vestibule. True | False
- False, because the correct statement is: Her condition was likely caused by a bacteria known as Staphylococcus aureus.
- False, because the correct statement is: There were no signs of induration and crust formation in the patient's right nasal vestibule.
- False, because the correct statement is: To be exact, the patient is suffering from acute nasal vestibulitis.
- False, because the correct statement is: A topical bacterial ointment should be applied directly to her affected nasal vestibule
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