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Which oxymetazoline nasal spray is best?

Colds, allergies and hay fever can cause nasal discomfort. For those experiencing nasal discomfort, an oxymetazoline nasal spray may offer the relief you need. There are numerous nasal spray brands, but Afrin Original Maximum Strength 12-Hour Nasal Congestion Relief Spray is the brand most people prefer.

What to know before you buy oxymetazoline nasal spray

What is oxymetazoline nasal spray?

Oxymetazoline is used to temporarily reduce nasal discomfort and congestion, not to cure colds or relieve allergies. It works by narrowing the blood vessels in the nose. It can be used once every 10 to 12 hours, but it isn’t recommended to use it more than twice in 24 hours.

How to use oxymetazoline nasal spray

Instructions may vary slightly depending on the brand you buy, so it’s important to read them. Generally, it’s best to blow your nose before using the spray. Keep your head upright, and breathe in deeply through your nose as you spray. Avoid spraying it in your eyes. 

How it differs from other types of nasal spray

  • Corticosteroid nasal spray: This alleviates the effects of rhinitis, hay fever and allergies by reducing histamine production. Although many corticosteroid nasal sprays are only available with a prescription, weaker formulations can be purchased over the counter.
  • Antihistamine nasal spray: This alleviates allergic symptoms by blocking histamine production.
  • Saline nasal spray: This can help clean pollen and allergens from your nostrils. Additionally, saline spray can provide relief from dry, irritated nostrils.

Oxymetazoline nasal spray side effects

Oxymetazoline nasal spray decreases nasal discomfort, but there are a few short-term side effects. It may cause a temporary burning or stinging sensation in your nostrils, and it may make you sneeze or have more nasal discharge for a short time.  

What to look for in a quality oxymetazoline nasal spray

Oxymetazoline nasal spray dosage

Most oxymetazoline nasal sprays contain 0.05% oxymetazoline, although some may contain more. According to the Mayo Clinic, if you’re using a spray with an average dose of oxymetazoline, you can use it around two times a day for three days. If you’re using this spray on a child younger than 6 years old, or you have a heart condition, thyroid condition, high blood pressure or diabetes, ask your doctor about the proper dosage.

Oxymetazoline nasal spray duration

Most options promise 12-hour relief, meaning you’ll need to use it around twice a day. Although some nasal sprays promise 24-hour relief, they can be difficult to find and may not work as well as they imply. As long as you buy a brand with 12 hours of protection and use the spray as directed, you should be fine.

Added ingredients

Most oxymetazoline nasal sprays only contain a single active ingredient. Still, for those with severe symptoms, several brands include menthol as well. Although many people prefer the sprays with menthol, others find the menthol uncomfortable.

Type of bottle

If you’ve used nasal sprays in the past, consider which type of bottle you found effective and comfortable. Some squeeze bottles are easy to use but release an overwhelming amount of spray. Many people prefer pump-mist bottles, although some feel they aren’t as effective.

Bottle size

Most oxymetazoline nasal sprays come in 1-fluid-ounce bottles. Still, many brands sell their nasal sprays in packs of two or three bottles. If you buy this nasal spray in a pack of two or three bottles, make sure you don’t overuse it.

How much you can expect to spend on oxymetazoline nasal spray

You can expect to spend $10-$12 per bottle.

Oxymetazoline nasal spray FAQ

Is oxymetazoline a steroid?

A. No, these nasal sprays don’t contain steroids. Both oxymetazoline and steroid-based sprays alleviate nasal congestion, but only steroids help with a runny nose, sneezing and watery eyes.

What happens if you use too much oxymetazoline?

A. Using too much oxymetazoline may result in drowsiness, dizziness or fainting. Using oxymetazoline for longer than three days can actually make your symptoms worse.

Can I use oxymetazoline in my ear?

A. This type of spray is not approved for inner-ear use. 

Is oxymetazoline an antibiotic?

A. No, oxymetazoline is a decongestant that doesn’t contain antibiotics.

Can you become dependent on oxymetazoline nasal spray?

A. Yes, many people found that they became dependent on oxymetazoline nasal spray after using it too often.

What’s the best oxymetazoline nasal spray to buy?

Top oxymetazoline nasal spray

Afrin Original Maximum Strength 12 Hour Nasal Congestion Relief Spray

Afrin Original Maximum Strength 12 Hour Nasal Congestion Relief Spray

What you need to know: Afrin is the most popular brand.

What you’ll love: This includes three easy-to-use 1-fluid-ounce bottles. Many people agree this is the best solution for the temporary relief of nasal congestion. 

What you should consider: The company often switches between squeeze bottles and pump bottles. Some users find the squeeze bottles overwhelming.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top oxymetazoline nasal spray for the money

FamilyCare Nasal Relief Pump Mist Spray

FamilyCare Nasal Relief Pump Mist Spray

What you need to know: This brand is comparable to Afrin, and three bottles of spray are included.

What you’ll love: The pump-mist bottles are easy to use. This contains menthol, which aids in severe nasal congestion.

What you should consider: Many users felt this wasn’t as powerful as the Afrin menthol nasal spray.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Afrin Two-Pack Combo No-Drip Severe Congestion

Afrin Two-Pack Combo No-Drip Severe Congestion

What you need to know: This spray is ideal for those with severe congestion.

What you’ll love: Two bottles of spray are included. This formulation contains menthol, which helps with the most severe cases of nasal congestion.

What you should consider: Some reviewers felt the menthol was overwhelming.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon


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Cody Stewart writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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