Advice about Runny Noses

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Three-year-old refuses to blow or wipe her nose

April 2007

Our 3 1/2-year-old daughter has never even TRIED to blow her nose. All the coaxing, encouraging, explaining the benefits, and demonstrating has gone nowhere. She won't tell us why she refuses to do it. With all the colds she gets, it would be a big help if she could learn this skill. What has worked for others?

It's very normal for a youngster not to blow their nose. My 11 year old still hates to. I guess it must feel wierd to them...I dont' know, he's never been able to explain it to me. He sniffs which drives me crazy but I try not to react. He'll also take a tissue and twist it into a snakey shape and stick it up his nose. It doesnt' do much good, but he does it himself so feels like he's in control. Can't give you any other suggestions, just know that your'e not alone and it seems to be pretty normal. anon mom
I never blew my nose until I was an adult! It was just uncomfortable and unproductive for me. Now, I only blow it if I can't breathe.They say that some people are blowers and some are pickers.I think it's just an individual thing. anon
I had the same problem with my son at that age. I thought he would be so much more comfortable if he would JUST BLOW HIS NOSE! For whatever reason, he just wasn't into it. I finally backed off nagging him about it so it wouldn't turn into some silly power struggle. I think it's a skill they have to learn and, at first, they may not see the benefit. He became a champion nose blower when he turned 4, and it's no longer a problem. He occasionally has to be reminded but now he'll do it if asked. It's His Nose...
My son wasn't able to successfully blow his nose on command till he was almost 6. Same for my other two. I think you will have to just dab and wipe till then. G.
I wrote last time asking how to get my 3-year-old to blow her nose. I wasn't completely explicit last time cuz this is kind of gross to explain. The issue is that she doesn't want to even WIPE her nose when she has a cold, and screams when we try to wipe (no matter how incredibly gently with very soft things). She lets the goo run down and occasionally smears it across her face. We're trying not to get into a power struggle and just let her be, but this is pretty gross and not up to my standards for going out in public. Snot Face
here's how my 23month old learned: i have terrible allergies this time of year and always have to blow my nose in the mornings. I tell him ''time for mama to blow her nose'' then I make a (apparently) hilarious honking sound in a tissue while actually blowing my nose. now after watching me for a few days/weeks, he blows his nose too. sometimes he honks but mostly he just blows his nose. he won't let me wipe his nose at all, but he will blow his nose if i hand him a tissue and we both honk. runny nose too
NO kids that I know of like to have their nose or face wiped. my daughter screams and fights too no matter what I use, and she stops as soon as I stop. I don't think the issue is what you use soft and warm or cold and wet. I think it's a control issue. You could have her wipe her own face but she won't do as good of a job - I bet she won't scream though. For me I just wipe them quick and get it over with. eventually they get used to having a clean face and learn to wipe it themselves - my almost 4 year old does this now. nose wiper
If your toddler wanted to fling poo all over the place and got mad at you for stopping her, would that be OK too? You're the grownup. Sometimes you have to do things that make your kid mad. Wipe her gross nose and deal with it. The end.

Two-year-old's perpetually runny nose

Jan 2006

My 2 year old has a constant runny nose. The mucous is clear and sometimes a little cloudy but remains white. We had him tested for allergies and turns out he has none. He also had tubes inserted for one ear infection that did not drain and had his tonsils and adenoids removed since they were unusually large. He also sounds congested although since his surgery is not as congested. The runny nose does not stop. His previous doctor thought it was allergies but now that it has been proven not to be. Any ideas? It doesn't seem to bother him too much but he doesn't know how it is to be without a constant runny nose either. Cathy

Most allergy doctors (even Dr. LeNoor on KPFA) only test for IgE antibodies, the ones that cause severe reactions but which account for 1% of all allergic responses. Check out for some insights into the delayed responses or IgG antibodies. You are right to question the continual drippy nose as it is not how we were meant to be. Recall the joke, if you nose runs and your feet smell, you were probably built upsidedown! Nori Hudson, NC
Hi there, I'm not sure what you had tested from an allergy perspective but there are so many things that can affect people. Our daughter had a runny nose from the time she was born (oct) until she was about 8-9 months old. At first the Dr. was sure it was just back to back mild colds since she was born right before winter but when spring rolled around and it didn't stop, that didn't make sense anymore. We happened to move a couple months later and I swear the runny nose stopped over night. The difference? Carpeting. Our old house was full of w/w carpeting and the new house had all hardwood floors. We had all the same stuff, pets, etc. and the only difference was the carpeting, So if you have carpeting, you may want to look into that as a possible cause. I don't have any tests or other proof but I know it worked for us. Good luck figuring it out ... Glad we got rid of the carpets!
Even though you had your son tested for allergies, you may want to try taking him off one or more of the most common allergic foods and see what happens. Some of the most common culprits are dairy, wheat, egg, citrus, soy, and egg. Allergy tests usually test for one type of antibody, the type that causes an acute, dramatic response. Many chronic conditions aren't caused by an ''allergy'' per se, but a sensitivity, which is often not detected by standard allergy tests. A naturopathic doctor or a nutrition consultant would be able to walk you through the elimination and challenge protocol that would help you identify which foods, if any, are problematic. Tara