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What are Nose Plugs?

Mary McMahon
Updated: Mar 03, 2024

Nose plugs are devices which are designed to fit into the nose, securely sealing it so that nothing can get inside. A variety of industries have a use for nose plugs, and they are readily available through drug stores, medical supply companies, and swimming supply stores. The term “nose plug” is also used to refer to a type of body jewelry used in nose piercings, although the nose plug under discussion is usually clear from the context.

Like ear plugs, nose plugs are typically made from soft materials which will conform to the shape of the nose to create a tight seal. Many are also clipped together, to make them harder to lose. As an alternative to nose plugs, some people prefer to use nose clips, devices which pinch the nose shut.

Swimmers like to use nose plugs to keep water out of their noses, especially if they are involved in synchronized swimming, a sport which often requires tricks in the water which could force water up the nose. Nose plugs prevent the accidental inhalation of water through the nose, and they also cut down on irritation from chlorinated water. People who notice that they frequently feel sniffly or congested after swimming may want to consider picking up some swim nose clips or nose plugs.

Other athletes who practice and compete in the water may also use nose plugs. Surfers and kiteboarders, among many others, like to keep their noses free of water and irritants. Especially in areas where water is contaminated or filled with sediment, using plugs cuts down on irritation to the nose, reducing the risk of infection.

In the medical world, nose plugs are sometimes used in medical testing like spirometry. In some cases, plugs can also be used for nosebleed control, to put pressure on the nose from the inside to encourage the source of the bleed to clot over.

People who are concerned about allergens and particulates in the air may also choose to wear nose plugs to keep their noses and bronchial passages cleaner. This does not prevent the inhalation of allergens through the mouth, but it is less obtrusive than wearing a facial mask. Nose plugs are also marketed for use by people who work with biohazards, with the plugs filtering out particulates which could potentially cause people to get sick. In these instances, noseplugs are best used with a mask, to ensure complete filtration.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a The Health Board researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By Planch — On Sep 27, 2010

If you have a nose piercing plug, do you have to take that out before wearing swimming nose plugs, or can you wear it all together? My daughter has two nose piercing plugs (one on each side of her nose) and we're trying to figure out if she will be able to wear swimming nose plugs during her swim class with the plugs in, or if she needs to take them out.

Any advice?

By gregg1956 — On Sep 27, 2010

When my daughter was at boarding school she always had to wear nose ring plugs because they didn't allow piercings -- I can't say I blame them, but I'd rather she be able to wear what she wants. Luckily she only had a small nostril piercing, so with makeup and some clear nose plugs she was good to go for the year.

By rallenwriter — On Sep 27, 2010

I have never used nose plugs for swimming, but I do love my kayaking nose plugs. There's nothing worse than getting a head full of river water, especially if you flip accidentally. I usually use Smiley's nose plugs, but I know other people have their favorite brands too. I've even heard that some people use swimmer's nose plugs, but I don't know how effective that is. What are you guys' favorite methods for keeping your nose plugged?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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