• There are two strengths of nasal drops - an adult strength and a child strength (for children aged 6 or over only).
  • Adults should not use xylometazoline for more than seven days at a time.
  • Children should not use xylometazoline for more than five days at a time.

About xylometazoline

Type of medicine Nasal decongestant
Used for Nasal congestion (a blocked-up nose)
Also called Otrivine® Adult, Otrivine® Child
Sudafed® Blocked Nose, Sudafed® Mucous Relief
Available as Nasal drops and spray

A common symptom of a cold is a blocked (congested) nose. A stuffy, blocked-up feeling in your nose can also occur in the absence of a cold. This is because the inside lining of your nose is sensitive to changes in the atmosphere (such as temperature and humidity changes) and this also can lead to symptoms of nasal congestion.

You may find a hot steamy shower or a steam inhalation will help to clear a blocked nose but, where this does not provide sufficient relief, a decongestant such as xylometazoline may be useful. Xylometazoline causes the small blood vessels in your nose to become narrower. This reduces the swelling of the lining of your nose, which is causing the congestion, and relieves the blocked-up feelings.

You can buy xylometazoline without a prescription to use for a few days (up to seven days for adults, or up to five days for children aged 6 years or older). It should not be used in children under 6 years of age.

Before using xylometazoline

Some medicines are not suitable for people with certain conditions, and sometimes a medicine may only be used if extra care is taken. For these reasons, before you start using xylometazoline it is important that your doctor or pharmacist knows:

  • If you are pregnant or breast-feeding.
  • If you have diabetes, high blood pressure, heart or blood vessel disease, or glaucoma.
  • If you have problems with your thyroid, prostate or kidneys.
  • If you have had your pituitary gland removed, or if you have recently had neurosurgery.
  • If you have ever had an allergic reaction to this or to any other medicine.
  • If you are taking any other medicines, including those available to buy without a prescription, herbal and complementary medicines. You must not use xylometazoline if you have taken a medicine for depression, known as a monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI) within the previous two weeks.

Getting the most from your treatment

  • Before you start this treatment, read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet from inside the pack. This will give you a step-by-step guide of how to use the spray or drops, and will also give you a full list of possible side-effects from using it.
  • If you are using the spray, the usual dose is one spray into each nostril, one to three times each day. Only use the spray if your nose feels blocked up.
  • If you are using the drops, the usual dose for an adult is two or three drops into each nostril two or three times a day when needed. For a child, the usual dose (of the child-strength drops) is one or two drops into each nostril once or twice a day when needed.
  • If you have bought xylometazoline nasal drops for your child, make sure you use the child-strength preparation. These are suitable for children over the age of 6 years. Do not give the adult strength of drops to your child, and do not use the drops at all in children under 6 years of age.
  • The spray can be more convenient to use than nasal drops. This is suitable for adults and for children over 12 years of age only.
  • If you are an adult, do not use xylometazoline drops or spray for more than seven days at a time. This is because if you use it for longer periods of time than this, your symptoms are likely to come straight back again when you stop using it. This is called rebound congestion. Children must not use xylometazoline for more than five days at a time for this same reason.
  • To avoid spreading infection from one person to another, nasal drops and sprays should only be used by one person. Do not share the same bottle or spray with other people.

How to use xylometazoline

If you are using xylometazoline nasal drops:

  • Blow your nose gently.
  • Remove the protective cap.
  • Tilt your head back a little.
  • Gently squeeze the container to release two or three drops into each nostril (one or two drops in children aged 6 to12 years).
  • Keep your head tilted back for a few moments to allow the drops to spread through your nose.
  • Wipe the dropper with a tissue and replace the protective cap.

If you are using xylometazoline nasal spray:

Before you use the spray for the first time, you need to 'prime' the bottle by pumping the spray into the air until you see a fine mist.

  • Blow your nose gently if needed.
  • Shake the bottle and remove the protective cap.
  • Put one finger on each side of the nozzle and then insert the nozzle of the spray into one of your nostrils. Try to keep the bottle upright as you do this. Next, breathe in through your nose and at the same time press down on the nozzle once. Breathe out through your mouth.
  • Use the spray in the other nostril by repeating the above step.
  • Wipe the nozzle with a tissue and replace the protective cap.

Can xylometazoline cause problems?

Along with their useful effects, most medicines can cause unwanted side-effects although not everyone experiences them. These usually improve as your body adjusts to the new medicine, but speak with your doctor or pharmacist if any of the following side-effects continue or become troublesome.

Xylometazoline side-effects - these are generally mild and occur infrequently What can I do if I experience this?
Irritation in your nose such as burning, soreness, dryness, stinging, itching or sneezing These should soon pass. If any become troublesome, ask your pharmacist for advice
Feeling sick Avoid rich or spicy foods
Headache Ask your pharmacist to recommend a suitable painkiller

If you experience any other symptoms which you think may be due to xylometazoline, discuss them with your pharmacist.

How to store xylometazoline

  • Keep all medicines out of the reach and sight of children.
  • Store in a cool, dry place, away from direct heat and light.