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How to Use Nasal Spray

Many medications can be given into the nose with nasal spray.

Most of these medications treat problems within the nose and sinus area, such as nasal congestion. Nasal sprays are available as over-the-counter or prescription drugs.

What you’ll need

In addition to your nasal spray, you’ll need soap and water or hand sanitizer to clean your hands. You’ll also need some tissues to blow your nose before using the nasal spray.

Step-by-step instructions

You can use these instructions for using nasal spray yourself. If you’re a parent or caregiver, you can also use these steps to give nasal spray to a child or another adult.


  1. Gather your supplies. These include the nasal spray or nasal pump spray plus tissues.
  2. Gently blow your nose to clear your nasal passages.
  3. Wash your hands with soap and water and then dry them with a clean towel or paper towel. If soap and water aren’t available, use hand sanitizer instead.
  4. If directed by the product label or by your doctor or pharmacist, shake the nasal spray bottle gently.

Using a pump nasal spray

  1. Hold the bottle with your index and middle fingers on each side of the bottle and your thumb on the bottom of the bottle.
  2. Prime the bottle. This is typically done by spraying the product one or more times into the air or into a tissue. See the product label for specific instructions.
  3. Tilt your head slightly forward.
  4. Close the nostril that is not receiving the medication. Do this by gently pressing on that side of your nose.
  5. Insert the tip of the bottle into the other nostril.
  6. Breathe in deeply through that nostril as you press down on the pump with your index and middle fingers. Remove the bottle and sniff once or twice. Repeat if directed. Wait at least 10 seconds between sprays.
  7. If directed, repeat steps 3–6 for the other nostril.

Finishing up

  1. Put the cap back on the bottle.
  2. Wait a few minutes to blow your nose after using the nasal spray.
  3. Wash your hands to remove any medication.
  4. Store the bottle as directed by the label or by your doctor or pharmacist.