Fluticasone nasal spray and drops

About fluticasone nasal spray or drops

Fluticasone nasal (nose) spray is a steroid nasal spray for cold-like symptoms caused by allergic rhinitis. This is inflammation of the inside of your nose that can be from hay fever.

Fluticasone is a type of medicine called a steroid (or corticosteroid). Corticosteroids are a copy of a substance your body makes naturally. They are not the same as anabolic steroids.

Fluticasone nasal spray is available on prescription for adults and children. Adults can also buy it from pharmacies and supermarkets. Brands include Flixonase, Avamys and Nasofan.

Some nasal sprays, such as Dymista, contain fluticasone mixed with other medicines, such as antihistamines, that help with an allergy.

Fluticasone also comes as nasal drops that shrink nasal polyps. These are only available on a prescription. Brand names include Flixonase.

It also comes as an inhaler and as a cream or ointment. Read about:

Key facts

Who can and cannot use fluticasone nasal spray or drops

Most adults can use fluticasone nasal spray.

Children aged 4 years and above can use fluticasone nasal spray if their doctor prescribes it.

Fluticasone nasal drops can be prescribed to adults and young people from the age of 16 years.

Fluticasone is not suitable for some people. To make sure the nasal spray or drops are safe for you, tell your doctor or pharmacist if you:

How and when to use it

How to use the spray

Fluticasone nasal spray needs to be used regularly for it to work.

You'll generally use the spray once or twice a day (once in the morning and once at night). The usual dose is 1 or 2 sprays into each nostril.

Follow the instructions that come with your nasal spray. Do not use more than the maximum number of sprays in 24 hours.

If you're using a new bottle, it may not work the first time. Pump the spray a few times until a fine mist comes out. You'll also need to do this if you have not used the bottle for a few days.

Remove the cap and gently shake the bottle.

  1. Blow your nose gently, then close 1 nostril with your finger.
  2. Bend your head forward slightly and carefully put the nozzle into your other nostril.
  3. Slowly breathe in through your nose and with your fingers press down on the widest part of the nozzle to squirt the spray once into your nostril.
  4. Breathe out through your mouth.
  5. Follow steps 3 and 4 again to squirt a second spray (if you need it) into the same nostril.

Repeat the process with the other nostril if you need it.

After using the spray, wipe the nozzle with a clean tissue and replace the cap.

How to use the drops

Fluticasone drops come in small plastic containers called "nasules". Divide the drops equally between each nostril. The usual dose is 6 drops into each nostril. You'll generally use the drops once or twice a day (once in the morning and once at night).

Follow the instructions that come with your nasal drops.

Pull off 1 plastic container from the strip of nasules. Flick the container with your finger and then shake it several times to mix the medicine well.

Hold the bottom of the container firmly. Twist and remove the top to open it. Do not open the container until you are ready to use it.

  1. Blow your nose gently.
  2. Follow the pictures in the manufacturer's leaflet to get your head into the right position.
  3. Carefully put the container into 1 nostril and gently squeeze.
  4. Keep squeezing until the sides of the container touch each other, then release. This will mean that you've had about half of the dose (about 6 drops).
  5. Follow steps 3 and 4 again to use the rest of the drops in your other nostril.

Do not keep the container. Only use it once.

It may take a few weeks for the medicine to work. Keep using it even though you may not feel better immediately.

Will my dose go up or down?

Once your symptoms are under control, you'll be able to use your nasal spray less often. For example, you might go from using 2 sprays twice a day, to 1 spray once a day.

If you bought a fluticasone nasal spray from a pharmacy, stop using it when you think you no longer need it. Ask a pharmacist for advice if you're not sure when to stop. Do not use it continuously for more than 1 month without speaking to a doctor.

If your symptoms get worse after reducing your dose, you may want to increase it again.

If you have fluticasone nasal spray or nasal drops on prescription, your doctor will tell you how often to use it and when to change your dose.

What if I forget to use it?

If you forget to take a dose, take it as soon as you remember. Unless it's almost time for your next dose, in which case skip the missed dose and take your next one as usual.

Do not take a double dose to make up for a forgotten one.

If you forget doses often, it may help to set an alarm to remind you. You could also ask a pharmacist for advice on other ways to help you remember to take your medicine.

What if I take too much?

Using too much fluticasone nasal spray or drops by accident is unlikely to harm you.

Side effects

Common side effect

Like all medicines, fluticasone can cause side effects, although not everyone gets them.

With fluticasone nasal spray or drops, very little medicine is absorbed into the rest of your body, so it's not likely to give you serious side effects.

If your doctor has prescribed high doses of fluticasone, or you’re also taking other steroid medicines or tablets for fungal infections or HIV, you may get underactive adrenal glands as a side effect. Ask your doctor if you need to carry a steroid emergency card.

These common side effects can happen in more than 1 in 100 people.

Keep taking the medicine but talk to your doctor if these side effects bother you or do not go away:

Serious side effects

Serious side effects are rare. Less than 1 in 10,000 people have a serious side effect when using fluticasone nasal spray or drops.

You are more likely to have a serious side effect if you use high doses of fluticasone for more than a few months.

Tell a doctor immediately if you get:

Serious allergic reaction

It happens rarely, but it is possible to have a serious allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) to fluticasone.

Call 999 or go to A&E if:

  • you get a skin rash that may include itchy, red, swollen, blistered or peeling skin
  • you're wheezing
  • you get tightness in the chest or throat
  • you have trouble breathing or talking
  • your mouth, face, lips, tongue or throat start swelling

You could be having a serious allergic reaction and may need immediate treatment in hospital.

These are not all the side effects of fluticasone. For a full list see the leaflet inside your medicines packet.

You can report any suspected side effect to the UK safety scheme.

How to cope with side effects

What to do about:

Pregnancy and breastfeeding

Fluticasone and pregnancy

If you are pregnant, speak to your doctor or a pharmacist before buying fluticasone nasal spray at a pharmacy or supermarket.

You can usually use fluticasone nasal spray and drops in pregnancy. There is no clear evidence that it will harm your baby.

However, for safety, your doctor will only prescribe fluticasone in pregnancy if the benefits outweigh the risks. They will prescribe the lowest dose that works for you. Ask your doctor if you have any concerns.

Find out more information about how using a steroid nasal spray to treat allergic rhinitis might affect you and your baby during pregnancy on the Best Use of Medicines in Pregnancy (BUMPS) website.

Fluticasone and breastfeeding

It's generally OK to use your fluticasone nasal spray or drops as normal while you're breastfeeding.

However always check with your doctor or a pharmacist first. Your baby may need extra monitoring if you use a high dose of the nasal drops.

Talk to your doctor if you're:

  • trying to get pregnant
  • pregnant
  • breastfeeding

Cautions with other medicines

Mixing fluticasone with herbal remedies or supplement

Some medicines and fluticasone interfere with each other. This can increase your chance of side effects. It may mean you need to change your dose of fluticasone.

Check with a pharmacist or your doctor if you're taking:

There's very little information about taking herbal remedies and supplements together with fluticasone. Ask a pharmacist for advice.


Tell your doctor or a pharmacist if you're taking any other medicines, including herbal remedies, vitamins or supplements.

Common questions

How does fluticasone work? How long does fluticasone take to work? How long will I use it for? Is it safe to use for a long time? Do I need a steroid card? Can I drink alcohol with it? Will it affect my fertility? Will it affect my contraception? Can I drive or ride a bike?