Causes Of Smelly Mucus In The Nose: How To Get Rid Of It?

Smelly mucus in nose is not an uncommon condition. Many people complain of foul odor in their nose. The prominent reason for this unpleasant smelly nasal discharge is sinus infection. It is mostly a sign of chronic sinusitis where the thick drainage has foul taste and odor because of bacterial infection.

Along with discharge there may be other symptoms such as pain around the orbits, headache, mild fever, etc. Once sinusitis is treated patient gets relieved of offensive smelly mucus as well as other symptoms.

What Causes Smelly Mucus In The Nose?

Normally mucus secretion from nose is watery, clear, thin and odorless.

It helps to clear out dirt, germs and keeps the nasal lining moist. However, under certain circumstances the mucus secretion can become thick and smelly. Here are some of the causes that can lead to smelly mucus.

  • Sinusitis: There are four pairs of para-nasal sinuses located in the skull bone. They are in the cheekbone, behind the eyes, under the forehead, and near the nasal bridge. Normally the sinuses warm and clean the air that a person breathes. The mucus secreted by the lining in the sinus cavity filters out dirt and germs and prevents it from entering in the lungs.
    The mucus secretion runs down in the nose and makes its way out of the nasal cavity. If there is swelling of the mucus lining in the sinus due to allergy, it blocks free flow of mucus. It becomes an appropriate ground for the bacteria to multiply. Gradually within few days the mucus becomes thick, yellow with pus formation. When this occurs patient may complain of foul smelly mucus from nose. It is sometimes even green in color. This mostly happens in chronic sinusitis where the condition is prevalent more than 3 months. Frequent episodes of allergic rhinitis, polyps in nose, narrow nasal passage due to deviated nasal septum are some of the factors that can lead to chronic sinusitis.

Sometimes an impacted foreign body for a prolonged period of time in the nasal cavity can lead to production of smelly and thick mucus. It is commonly seen in children.

How To Get Rid Of Smelly Mucus In Nose?

Bad mucus smell in most cases is due to chronic sinusitis. This condition can be easily diagnosed with the help of medical history, clinical examination, X-ray of para-nasal sinuses or CT scan. X-ray can also reveal if there is a foreign body in the nasal cavity, or deviated nasal septum. Normally in case of sinusitis the doctor prescribes a course of antibiotics to kill the bacteria, decongestants to liquefy mucus and saline nasal draining to keep the mucus lining of nose moist.

Patient may also need pain relieving medicine if there is associated pain around the orbits, on forehead, and the upper teeth. Surgery is the last resort to cure smelly mucus in nose if there is a large polyp or extensive deviated nasal septum.

Use of alternative medicines can complement the main line treatment in many cases. In fact it ensures faster recovery. Patient needs to drink enough water and liquid to liquefy the thick mucus. Avoid drinking alcohol, excess of tea and coffee as they can dehydrate the body and aggravate the swelling of mucus lining.

Homeopathic medicines such as hepar sulph, Kali bich, pulsatilla, thuja, all are effective in chronic sinusitis infection.


  1. Kynda said:

    I am 20 years old and I have been having this smelly mucus in my nose for some months now. I hate it because I some times think people around me can smell it too from my mouth. I brush my teeth three times a day but it still smells. Can anybody help me with this please, it is very irritating.

    August 15, 2017
  2. Irene said:

    I also am suffering from a foul smell from my nose, it is embarrassing because I know people keep their distance from me because of my smell. I also have no choice, my job requires me to talk and work with hundreds of people every day so I had to quit. I tried more than 10 kinds of nasal spray including prescription and over the counter medicine. I really need help to get rid of this smell.

    November 14, 2017
  3. Chae said:

    Try 3 drops of Lavender essential oil, 2 drops of Chamomile essential Oil and 1 drops of Clove essential oil in 2 liters of hot distilled water (Steamer). Cover your head with towel for 15-20 minutes and inhale the vapor through mouth and nose. Immediately after brush your teeth with a non-fluoride toothpaste and rinse well. Then do oil pulling with coconut oil for at least 20 minutes and rinse mouth with a saline solution to remove excess oil from mouth. Do this everyday for a whole week in that order at night before bed.

    November 25, 2017
  4. Roxan said:

    Hi Vincent, I suffered with the same thing for years. After a million failed rounds of antibiotic treatment for what kept getting diagnosed as a sinus infection, a new doctor listened to me and sent me for a sinus CT and turned out that it was polyps blocking all four sinus cavities. I had them surgically removed and I have been symptom free for over two years now.

    December 21, 2017
  5. RY said:

    I am having bad smelly mucus in my nose and mouth since few weeks. My doctor has told me to consult a dentist as he suspects tooth infection is causing this problem. The infection may have spread to sinus. Once the tooth infection is treated, the smell should go away.

    April 20, 2018
  6. JN said:

    I am 27 years old. Ever since a cockroach had entered my ear, I have been having foul smell in my nose and mouth. It is quiet irritating. I usually suffer from headaches. What can I do?

    June 29, 2018
    • PUP said:

      Bad smell in mouth and nose probably is linked with something else other than the cockroach going into your ear. However, if you feel discomfort, clear your doubt by consulting an ENT specialist. He will be able to examine you clinically and suggest the treatment for the possible cause.

      July 31, 2018

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