How to give your child nose ointment, drops or spray

If you have any questions about your child’s nose drops, please ask your family doctor (GP) or local community pharmacist.

Instructions on giving your child nose ointment, drops or spray

  • Wipe your child’s nose and ask him or her to blow his or her nose if needed.

  • Wash your hands.

  • Get your child into any of these positions to give the nose ointment, drops or nasal spray:
    • tilt your child’s head back
    • lay your child flat on his or her back
    • ask someone to hold your child in a safe position
    • wrap your baby or young child in a light blanket or sheet to keep his or her arms and legs still
  • Shake the bottle or spray

  • Remove the top from the bottle, tube or spray and throw away the plastic seal.

  • Give the medicine as follows:

    • For nose ointment - squeeze a small amount onto your finger or a cotton bud and gently dab inside the nostril(s).

    • For nose drops - squeeze the bottle and put the right number of drops into the nostril(s).

    • For nose spray - squirt the recommended number of sprays inside your child's nostril(s).

  • Keep your child in this position for a minute or two so the medicine spreads through his or her nose.

  • Put the top back on the container.

  • Wipe away any excess with a clean tissue.

Looking after the nose drops or spray

  • Always check the expiry date of the medicine before giving it to your child
  • Keep the container tightly closed in a cool, dark place according to the label.
  • Read the instructions on the label and only use the ointment, drops or spray in the affected nostril(s). If you are given different medicine for each nostril, make sure you use the correct medicine for each nostril.
  • Nose drops or spray should not be used for longer than stated on the label. As you are giving your child the medicine for a certain number of days, write the date you open the bottle on the label so you will know when to throw it away.
  • Keep all medicines out of the reach of children.
Compiled by: 
the Pharmacy department in collaboration with the Child and Family Information Group
Last review date: 
August 2017


Please read this information sheet from GOSH alongside the patient information leaflet (PIL) provided by the manufacturer. If you do not have a copy of the manufacturer’s patient information leaflet please talk to your pharmacist. A few products do not have a marketing authorisation (licence) as a medicine and therefore there is no PIL.

For children in particular, there may be conflicts of information between the manufacturer’s patient information leaflet (PIL) and guidance provided by GOSH and other healthcare providers. For example, some manufacturers may recommend, in the patient information leaflet, that a medicine is not given to children aged under 12 years. In most cases, this is because the manufacturer will recruit adults to clinical trials in the first instance and therefore the initial marketing authorisation (licence) only covers adults and older children.  

For new medicines, the manufacturer then has to recruit children and newborns into trials (unless the medicine is not going to be used in children and newborns) and subsequently amend the PIL with the approved information. Older medicines may have been used effectively for many years in children without problems but the manufacturer has not been required to collect data and amend the licence. This does not mean that it is unsafe for children and young people to be prescribed such a medicine ‘off-licence/off-label’. However, if you are concerned about any conflicts of information, please discuss with your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.