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David Emery

Is Zicam Nasal Gel Cold Remedy Safe to Use?

By November 21, 2006

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An anonymous forwarded email describes scary symptoms experienced by one Zicam user:

Immediately I had an intense, horrible burning in my nasal/sinus passages. The skin on my face hurt to touch and I had pain and burning so that it hurt to move my head. My husband was here and kept asking if I wanted to go to the ER but the thought of getting in a car was overwhelming. My face was burning hot and my nasal passages were so swollen that I couldn't breathe through my nose and I could see the swelling when I looked in the mirror. It lasted for about three hours and it was Labor Day weekend and I couldn't see a Dr. until Tuesday. I have seen two ENT specialists in the last two days because I have lost, totally lost all ability to taste or smell.

Is Zicam safe to use?

2009 Update: FDA Issues Warning on Zicam


November 28, 2006 at 12:01 pm
(1) Mary says:

All I know is that I have used Zicam as needed for several years and have thwarted numerous colds. I always follow package directions applying the gel just within the lower rim of the nostril so it is absorbed by the mucous membrane (the same place the virus enters)

Last week I enjoyed the wonderful aromas of Thanksgiving dinner; everthing from spicy pumpkin pie to sage and onion stuffing besides the delicious turkey.

I kind of wonder about the reported problem on the Internet; it sounds like it is written in the manner of so many other hoaxes.

September 26, 2011 at 2:35 pm
(2) Melissa says:

Maybe the above comment was an allergy reaction? I have never had any problems using Zicam. but what is this gel you speak of? is something you rub in ur nose? I have a bottle youspray into ur mouth. of course your comment was 5 yrs ago I know things change…lol.

October 9, 2011 at 2:11 pm
(3) Robert W Shaw says:

I also have used this Nasal gel since it first came out, never had any problems. Maybe the people who lost the sense of smell, was due to other problems they encountered.

I wish the product was available….it works !!.

December 1, 2006 at 6:03 pm
(4) James Lampert says:

Hmm. The reaction seems a bit extreme, but I have little doubt that, being allergic to zinc myself (these days, even handling galvanized iron for any length of time can make me itch at the point of contact), I’d almost certainly have SOME sort of adverse reaction to the stuff.

December 10, 2006 at 2:39 pm
(5) anonymous says:

Used it last night when very congested. Worked great. Used it 12 hours later as recommeneded. Can’t smell a thing. went to the internet to check for “temporary” side effect… found a lot of web sites… in short… I used product… I can’t smell… I REALLY hope this is temporary…

January 3, 2007 at 4:10 pm
(6) Nate says:

The nasal spray makes me sneeze, so I used the orange-flavored Zicam lozenges instead a couple weeks ago when my entire office was sick; my cold symptoms disappeared within a day or two. Like many other medications, would recommend taking after a meal, as the directions clearly state that nausea can occur on an empty stomach.

January 19, 2007 at 12:17 am
(7) Tim McGrath says:
April 24, 2007 at 10:24 am
(8) T says:

My boss, a physician, used it December 25, 2004. He has not been able to smell or taste since. This man LOVED to cook and eat spicy exotic foods, and it has pretty much DESTROYED his life. He now tells all of our patients about his experience and warns them against this product.

June 2, 2007 at 7:03 am
(9) Lisa Brunner says:

After using Zicam for the fourth time in one day I expirenced the same burning and I DID go to the ER for relief of the pain. It was sooooo intense that I couldn’t think straight. The pain was behind my eye, nose, and down to my eye teeth. I was give narcotics after nothing else worked to relieve the pain. It’s been five days now and I am still in pain on the left side of my face.(just not as intense as that first night.) I will see my GP on Monday morning to evaluate if there is any damage. The only thing I can think that I did was to inhale when I felt the gel dripping out of my nose. OUCH!! I would NOT use this product and stick to oral Zinc lozengers for cold remidies!

November 13, 2007 at 10:44 pm
(10) Jeremy says:

I used to like this stuff, until it gave me a bad nosebleed, off and on for a week! I went online and saw what it can do to you, and I got scared, I almost went to the doc. I curse this stuff since then, a simple cold is not worth losing your sense of smell for relief.

November 14, 2007 at 2:10 am
(11) Steven P says:

It is 0200 and approximately 3 hours since I sprayed Zicam Cold Remedy Gel in both nostrils. I am in severe pain from the burning in my nose, sinus, eye and even in my teeth. I have been awake for several hours with this pain and it is not going away. I am currently and desperatly searching Google for suggestions or answers on what to do if one is having these reactions. So far there has been a lot of discussion about the loss of smell and taste, but nothing to help ease the pain. I read one case where the person went to the ER. If this doesn’t subside within the hour I am going to the ER myself. I am heading outdoors to see if the cooler temperature might help. If not, I will try to take a shower hoping the steam relieves the pain. More later after I try my own remedies since they are not readily accessible from Zicam.

January 4, 2008 at 6:55 pm
(12) Laurie Pritchett says:

I used Zicam one time a year ago, and I haven’t been able to smell anything since. Don’t use it.

January 18, 2008 at 7:05 pm
(13) Regina Costa says:

I’ve been using it for 3.5 days. I had intense sinus pain decongestants were not working and I had spent 3 days prior to that drinking hot fluids, to no avail. The Zicam opened up my sinuses. I put the tip just inside my nostrils. No problems. My sense of smell is fine. Maybe some people are very sensitive to zinc.

January 29, 2008 at 4:34 pm
(14) Amber says:

Do not suck the medication back. Just spray and leave it. If you suck it back it will burn. I wish people would read directions. Have been using spray for years with no side effects. It is a amazing product. I love it!

January 29, 2008 at 8:58 pm
(15) Ray says:

I have used it for the last 2 days. No side effects……cold is non-existent

February 4, 2008 at 10:23 am
(16) Apnt says:

I used this product last night around 12 am, and immediately had a weird taste in my throat followed by an intense burn in my nostril and even felt like my brain was on fire. I finally was able to get some sleep around 4 am, it is 10 am the day after and I can’t smell or taste a thing. I really hope it is temporary, I can’t find anything on making it better. Oh my God, what have I done!!!

February 7, 2008 at 4:15 pm
(17) Denise says:

I used zicam this morning for the first time ever-one freaking dose.i immideatly had burning all the way up my nasal passage-NOW i can not smell or taste anything. It has been six hours. I can tell if something is sweet or salty but i cant taste it.. This is baaaaddd.

February 8, 2008 at 11:38 am
(18) Todd says:

Sounds like the competition is trying to undermine a product through hoaxing people into paranoia…

Burning sensations and discomfort from improperly administering the gel up into your nostrils and inhaling sounds reasonable. You’d get the same sensation by putting plain H2O into your nostril and inhaling.

Losing your sense of smell for a year, come on. If that were the case you’d have sued the pants off of the company that distributes Zicam and they would have pulled it from the shelves by now.

February 12, 2008 at 6:55 pm
(19) Josh says:

I am a physician who unfortunately used Zicam spray myself approximately two years ago. Immediately after a single use, I lost all of my sense of smell for approximately eight weeks. It then took about a year and a half for it to return to normal. This, unfortunately, does not appear to be a rare occurrence. I strongly believe this product should be banned for safety reasons. I chose not to participate in litigation against the company so that my criticism remains credible.

February 26, 2008 at 12:45 pm
(20) Tara says:

I have used Zicam for over a year sporatically with no problems. I bought the Zicam nasal gel spray on Friday, February 22, 2008 and administered one dose in each nostril as directed…the pain was immediate and took 3 days before I could breathe without extreme pain. However, the effects have worsened ~ I have no sense of smell and taste, this is just not normal. Everything has a nasty taste to it. I didn’t administer it improperly and I read all the instructions. My case is obviously not isolated and the spray should be removed from the market.

February 28, 2008 at 1:23 am
(21) random joe says:

it would probably be heard to fake this…


March 5, 2008 at 10:29 am
(22) Holly says:

Well…I have never had any problems before with a Zicam , or Zinc product, but the Nasal Gel is another story.

I just used it about 15 minutes ago, and my face, head, nose and throat are either burning or hurting! I came on here looking for some answer to resolve this! I hope I don’t have to make a trip to the doctor today!

I will do some more looking into this matter, as the discomfort is not letting up, and I need to call the nurses mline to see what they suggest.

March 17, 2008 at 5:20 pm
(23) Tara says:

I used Zicam nasal spray with no problem for one year until I bought the Zicam nasal GEL spray…the two are completely different. Listen this is not some hoax on the internet, as the burning pain started to subside in my nose, I felt my taste and smell diminishing. I used the gel spray only one time in each nostril on February 22, 2008 and within 5-10 seconds, my nose felt like someone lit a match inside my head. I have gone to my intern as well as an ENT specialist…there is no cure or rememdy! Time will only tell whether my taste and smell will ever be restored. All I can say is many things have a smokey metal taste or smell and I no longer enjoy my favorite thing ~ a cup of coffee!!! Preparing a meal for my family isn’t pleasant anymore since my tastes are so extreme now, I’m not seasoning my foods properly. This is a sad situation for hundreds of people and may not be life threatening but it sure is life altering…Zicam shame on you!!!

March 31, 2008 at 3:57 pm
(24) Chris says:

life altering it is. you have no idea how connected memory is to scent.
ive lamented the loss of my scent ever since sitting at a Cocos having lunch with my girlfriend shortly after shooting the stuff up my nose to shorten the length of a cold and how badly it burned. i remember snorting a little bit of the water in the bathroom to cool it down because it burned so badly. after that almost all scent was gone.
something would break down in the trash and make the house smell like trash but i couldnt smell it. if i use cleansers i can only barely smell them when they are dangerously strong.
every once in awhile though on very rare occasions a few scents are able to get through, the sense wakes up for a few seconds and i can remember what its like. this part saddens me the most. all this just because i wanted to get a cold over with sooner??
i can only imagine what i’m missing with food flavors.
id like to be part of the class action lawsuit. i dont want any money, i just want the damn product pulled. i dont want the joy of memories tied to scents taken from anyone else. you dont realize what difference it makes to your experience in life until you lose it.

May 31, 2008 at 2:11 am
(25) Nancy says:

Used the Zicam for allergies today for my seasonal allergies..Used it about 3-4 times, and did not shoot the gel up my nose either, but the last time awhile after using it, my nose, throat, ears, head etc, all felt like it was burning….I have used Zicam for colds in the past and never experienced this…It seems its something with this gel, or they changed whats in it…But I will not use it anymore, and it really hasnt helped my allergies either

June 3, 2008 at 7:32 pm
(26) Zicam Petition says:

I know you have heard of the problem with ZICAM and zinc based products. The problem still exists. Please see and sign our petetiion. Please pass it on to your contacts and collegues if possible.



September 20, 2008 at 1:55 pm
(27) Ann says:

I have a cold with nasal congestion. I tried several different OTC productsm, all of which worked for a little while, then stopped working. I tried using Zicam Extreme Congestion Relief last night, following the directions on the box and IT WORKED!!! It cleared my nasal passages almost immediately and it’s still working in the morning. There’s no problem with losing my sense of smell as I have read about. Someone’s cooking breakfast in the house & it sure smells good! It’s a great product and will continue to use it when I need it!

September 26, 2008 at 6:44 pm
(28) Gregg says:

I rarely get a cold because I use “airborne” regularly. I did catch one from one of the people I work with in the last few days. I decided to try Zicam. Luckily, I decided to read the directions before I used it, because I bought the spray gel, and just because of the nature of the bottle I would have sprayed it and inhaled it deeply like you do any nasel spray. I can see by the comments that I may have saved myself some discomfort. I followed the directions just spraying it into the 1st stage of my nostril, and did not sniff. I had to wipe my nose with a kleenex for ahwile until the runnyness stopped. I have no discomfort, no loss of taste or smell. Just ate dinner, no adverse effects. It has immediately helped with the initial cold symptoms. This is a very good product, when the directions are followed.

September 27, 2008 at 9:37 pm
(29) Sicky McSick says:

I accidentally threw away the Ziacam (Extreme Congestion Gel) and used it before reading NOT to sniff it in. I slightly inhaled the gel and i feel FINE. Im sure the gel does cause adverse side effects in some people, but for most, like me, its a really great and useful product. My nasal passages are clear and I can finally breathe! I’ll comment again if for some reason my whole face starts to burn, but for now, I feel great.

October 14, 2008 at 11:39 am
(30) Jacob JS says:

Don’t snort the spray, it hurts, all the way down the throat. After that I reread the package and only sprayed in the forward part of the nose. If done right right, it won’t burn the inside of your nose. Like most of you here, open the bottle and use a Q-tip to aply the gell to the forward part of the nose.


October 29, 2008 at 5:13 pm
(31) Lindsay says:

I have been using Zicam, for the past week. It has helped my cold considerably. The only side effects I have experienced is slight burning, that subsides relatively quickly. Also I am experiencing a raw kind of bloody, scabby, thing on the inside of my nose but other than that it’s great. I have used it in previous years with NO Side Effects, so think something may have changed in the formula. Thats my 2 cents.

November 18, 2008 at 5:47 pm
(32) T.H.D. says:

I am so distraught because I have totally lost my sense of smell. It’s gone! I stuck my nose in a huge jar of ground cinnamon and couldn’t smell even one trace. It’s so upsetting. At first I thought it was just from a cold or sinus infection that I am suffering from. Then I googled it and saw all these posts about the link with Zicam. If it’s true, Zicam should NOT be selling it!!!!!!!! I am so upset about this. Does anyone know if the loss of smell is permanent? I’m hoping that’s not from using Zicam but just from having a sinus infection or cold.

November 19, 2008 at 12:44 am
(33) nancy says:

I have no idea whether I can smell or not. Since I sprayed Zicam into my nose 2 hours ago, I have not been able to breathe through my nose at all (inhale or exhale). I can’t taste anything and my head is throbbing. My stomach aches and I am truly miserable. I may have used the product incorrectly based on what I’ve read here (use in the front of the nostrils, rather than breathing it in like I did). But I’m searching for an answer here: When will I be able to breathe or taste again?

December 3, 2008 at 2:59 pm
(34) Chip says:

I tried Zicam and my nose literally exploded. I sprayed it in and within 5 seconds both nostrils exploded like balloons spraying blood across the room. There was cartilage and skin chunks all over my desk. Not recommended.

December 17, 2008 at 1:27 am
(35) rca alaska says:

I’ve used Zicam and stopped when I noticed my usually over-sensitive sense of smell had deteriorated drastically. My son severely burnt his inside nasal passages and sinuses after using Zicam once and now has reoccurring problems with his sinuses. I do not recommend using this product.

December 20, 2008 at 12:15 am
(36) lynne says:

I immeadiately thought of the Tylonol posionings, I have used Ziacam before, but not the gel, my head sinus and skin felt as though it were on fire, I was almost covinced to go to ER when it calmed and I went to sleep 3 days later I am soooooo sick, bronchitis sinus ect, I will never use again and I had recommended it ti my brother same
day , after my reaction he took back

December 25, 2008 at 9:05 am
(37) Andrew says:

I took zicam for my sinusitis, and my nose got really really hot, then actually caught on fire, i had no idea this could happen. I had to goto the sink to put out the fire, I am now left with only a half-nose, but at least my cold is gone.

December 26, 2008 at 3:49 pm
(38) Victor says:

My wife used the gel last night and within 10 minutes was screaming in agony from the pain. We attempted to flush her nasal passages and massive blood clots spewed from her nostrils. I rushed her to the ER where the attending physician said her sinuses had been completely dissolved away, irreversible damage.

December 27, 2008 at 6:23 pm
(39) Ed says:

I like Zicam swabs. Zicam in combo with 24 hr Claritan all but eliminated my symptoms in 3 days last month. No nostril burns at all, for me. fyi – I have 60 yr old nostrils that give me frequent problems.

December 29, 2008 at 6:10 pm
(40) Gary says:

Have used it twice….when a cold started to come on. It is the best thing I have ever used. Both times it relieved symptoms in one day and the cold never took hold. I have not experienced any of the burning or inability to smell after using the product.

January 4, 2009 at 9:50 pm
(41) shaun says:

does anyone have a remedy for the burning?
our box says to “inhale deeply”… and it’s extremely painful like you said… what to do to releave it??????

January 4, 2009 at 11:22 pm
(42) Shaun says:

we ended up brewing some flaxseed & having quite a few teaspoons of it. first took advil to block the pain. also gargling with sage that brewed like tea. sucking on a coughdrop or sucker helped too (or a small hardcandy)

January 19, 2009 at 8:37 pm
(43) John says:

i started using Zicam when i heard it was written up in the New England Journal of Medicine. about my 3rd time i squirted it up into my nose… it started burning. it lasted about 1/2 hour. i noticed nearly immediately i couldnt smell gardenias or my Mr Lincoln Rose… (both strong fragrances); skunks still smelled like skunks; i could eat asparagus and broccoli for the first time without being repulsed by the smell; some smells were altered; some just couldnt be smelled. I assumed i put it too hi up in my nose but wondered why there was nothing in the label that cautioned me that this could happen.

January 21, 2009 at 9:29 am
(44) Kevin says:

I have used Zicam for over a year now, and I have a hard time believing that people have completley lost their sense of smell. It is a strong medicine, that can burn the nasal passage, if too much is used, or you inhale too hard. I would also advise if you have a sore throat not to use because it burns like the dickens!

February 12, 2009 at 11:30 am
(45) Vanessa Walker says:

I used the product on January 17, 2009, just two sprays. I have not been able to taste or smell properly since then. I am writing this on February 12, 2009. I definitely feel this product should be taken off the market. It is very depressing to loose one’s sense of smell and taste. Apparently there is no way of knowing if and/or when these senses may return.

February 17, 2009 at 5:21 pm
(46) Linda says:

You should search about the Zicam class action suit settled in 2006 (?) Over 300 people lost their sense of smell and taste – permanently. I lost mine in December 2008 and it has not returned.

February 25, 2009 at 11:43 pm
(47) tom says:

i think you guys are all morons…
i’ve used the gel for about 2 years and it has relentlessly conquered any cold/flue like symptoms i’ve ever experienced….Also, I snort it back when I dispense the gel into my nose, I have had a few burning sensations after using it 8x in 1 hour, but that went away briefly after a dispensing of snot. But to say that you’re losing your sense of taste and smell for over a year…That’s ridiculous to say the least. To do that you must completely destroy the nasal compounds and the membranes amongst the surface of your nasal cavity…Get a clue people, quit trying to schist the product

March 5, 2009 at 1:38 am
(48) Geo says:

Is it possible that we are dealing with “expired” product here?? Chemical nature can change with time…

March 9, 2009 at 10:58 am
(49) Erika says:

I’ve used the zicam cold remedy gel numerous times (through out the years) and nothing extreme happened to me. Ever. Everyone’s story is extreme.
As of right now, no, I can’t smell anything because I’m still sick. It hasn’t cleared me up yet (this time), maybe I’m becoming immune to it now?
Usually it fixes me up right away. I’d still suggest it.
You do not inhale or snort this product.

March 24, 2009 at 11:32 pm
(50) Terri says:

Hmmm…I have used this product since it came out with only positive outcomes. I am suspicious of these negative posts as they all sound a little too close to each other. My recommendation is READ AND FOLLOW Instructions on the box.

April 6, 2009 at 1:39 pm
(51) Mary says:

I used the product before reading all these posts and I must admit I’m a bit nervous about the side affects. However, in the litigious climate of our country, it is difficult for me to believe that all these people have lost their sense of smell and taste and this product remains on the shelf. To be continued ……

April 28, 2009 at 3:57 pm
(52) Keith says:

I’ve used the product about seven times or so and the last couple of times I used it I experienced a strong burning sensation that lasts for couple of days. It’s like I damaged my sinuses. A mild headache also accompanies the buring sensatiion. I do have to say that I inhaled the stuff into my sinuses after application. I guess that had something to do with it. I used it two days ago and I still have a burning sensation and a mild headache. It has not affected my smell or taste at this point. I will not use it again. I’ll take my chances with the cold.

May 3, 2009 at 8:58 am
(53) Maria says:

Why doesn’t anyone use the Zicam mouth spray or tablets if they have sensitive noses? I’m only saying this because i am prone to acute sinusitis and allergies and Zicam has saved my winters in Chicago. I would never stick something up my nose any more because it’s so sensitive , but I use the spray in my mouth (follow directions) or sometimes the tabs when they’re out of the spray, and it has saved me from so many probable colds when my 4 year old has been sick.

June 2, 2009 at 1:53 pm
(54) David Turner says:

I was a victim of Zicam as well. It is no joke and a VERY frightful experience to lose your sense of smell and taste. I don’t wish it on anyone. Before the expiration date October of 2007 I believe, the maker made no steps to prevent the trajection of the zinc solution from going straight up deep into your sinus cavity hitting your neuron area which provides your sense of smell. Since that date and after a LOT of lawsuits, they modified the tip of the spray to spread it and mist it more. If you use it you would have noticed this. I still have a bottle with that expiration date in my freezer in a plastic bag as I wanted it in case I needed to prove my case for destroying my smell.

When I used it I felt a blast and become immediately dizzy similiar to what others reported. I knew something was wrong at that very moment. With me Zicam wiped out my sense of smell mostly and my taste slightly. Everything smelled metalic, even dog droppings had its own new smell to me. Taking a shower, the shampoo and body gel smelt extremely metalic and was difficult to use they were so bad. It was extremely frustrating learning every smell over again as they were now different. For the most part my sense of taste was still there which was contrary to everything I had learned that smell and taste are completely connected. Some things like peanut butter which I really enjoyed tasted horribly and I could not longer eat it. Other things like sugars tasted the same.

But there was hope for me at the end of the tunnel, after a full year I regained both my sense of smell and taste completely! I started using a netti pot near this time which I do not know if it was a coincidence or not, but it makes sense to me that it may have been a factor. I believe my sense of smell was mainly affected because my cilia may have been caked in zinc from the Zicam which affected mainly my sense of smell. By using a netti pot with a saline combination solution it may have acted as a base to strip the zinc off and allow me to regain my sense of smell. I highly recommend trying it at least as they are very affordable. I remember when I realized the shower gel smelled normal again I started smelling everything in site and was so excited when I realized everything was back. It is a feeling I can’t explain to regain something so necessary. If someone else can have it back from that method it would be amazing.

June 8, 2009 at 1:25 pm
(55) NasalZincDanger says:

Zicam is dangerous. All you have to do is pick up the phone and call any doctor who specializes in sense of smell. I have not found one who thinks Zicam is safe. I am a victim of Zicam. All of the competing brands HAVE pulled their product off the shelf except Zicam. Probably for moral reasons. Could you sleep at night knowing you are doing this to people? Matrixx is spending a lot of money in litigation from Zicam but they keep a profit overall with no competition. I have heard of people who used Zicam for many years without side effects and then lost their sense of smell using it later. BEWARE! Listen to the doctors, its not worth the risk.

March 2, 2011 at 1:25 am
(56) Joey says:

LOL at you thinking any company in the world would pull a product off the line for “moral reasons”. Companies aren’t people, they are Amoral. They don’t give a rats ass whether the medicine they give u saves ur life or gives u genital warts as long as they can put the most possible amount of money in the bank.

June 16, 2009 at 12:04 pm
(57) Phil says:

@BreakingNews on Twitter has just reported:

“URGENT — FDA: Consumers should stop using Zicam Cold Remedy nasal gel and related products immediately. Can cause permanent loss of smell.”

June 16, 2009 at 2:03 pm
(58) Steve says:

FDA says Zicam nasal spray can cause loss of smell

WASHINGTON – Consumers should stop using Zicam Cold Remedy nasal gel and related products because they can permanently damage the sense of smell, federal health regulators said Tuesday.

The over-the-counter products contain zinc, an ingredient scientists say may damage nerves in the nose needed for smell. The other products affected by the Food and Drug Administration’s announcement are adult and kid-size Zicam Cold Remedy Nasal Swabs.

The FDA says about 130 consumers have reported a loss of smell after using Zicam products since 1999.

“Loss of the sense of smell is potentially life threatening and may be permanent,” said Dr. Charles Lee. “People without the sense of smell may not be able to detect life dangerous situations, such as gas leaks or something burning in the house.”

The FDA said Zicam Cold Remedy was never formally approved because it is part of a small group of remedies that are not required to undergo federal review before launching. Known as homeopathic products, the formulations often contain herbs, minerals and flowers.

A warning letter issued to manufacturer Matrixx Initiatives on Tuesday asked the company to stop marketing its zinc-based products, but the agency did not issue a formal recall. Instead, regulators said Matrixx would have to submit safety and effectiveness data on the drug.

“The next step, if they wish to continue marketing Zicam intranasal zinc products, is for them is for them to come in and seek FDA approval,” said Deborah Autor, director of FDA’s drug compliance division.

The agency is requiring formal approval now because of the product’s safety issues, she added.

Matrixx Initiatives is facing multiple lawsuits over the product, but says on its Web site: “No plaintiff has ever won a court case, because there is no known causal link between the use of Zicam Cold Remedy nasal gel and impairment of smell.”

Representatives from the Scottsdale, Ariz.-based company, which saw its stock price plunge to a 52-week low after the FDA announcement, did not immediately return calls for comment Tuesday.

Health officials said they have asked Matrixx executives to turn over more than 800 consumer complaints concerning lost smell that the company has on file. A 2007 law began requiring manufacturers to report such problems, but FDA regulators declined to say Tuesday whether the company broke the law.

The 130 reports received by the FDA came entirely from physicians and patients, not the manufacturer.

Regulators said the relatively small number of complaints accounted for the agency’s lengthy investigation.

“FDA doesn’t take action against drug products without evaluating all of the circumstances surrounding the issues with the product,” Lee said.

June 16, 2009 at 2:04 pm
(59) Steve says:

WASHINGTON – Consumers should stop using Zicam Cold Remedy nasal gel and related products because they can permanently damage the sense of smell, federal health regulators said Tuesday.

The over-the-counter products contain zinc, an ingredient scientists say may damage nerves in the nose needed for smell. The other products affected by the Food and Drug Administration’s announcement are adult and kid-size Zicam Cold Remedy Nasal Swabs.

The FDA says about 130 consumers have reported a loss of smell after using Zicam products since 1999.

“Loss of the sense of smell is potentially life threatening and may be permanent,” said Dr. Charles Lee. “People without the sense of smell may not be able to detect life dangerous situations, such as gas leaks or something burning in the house.”

The FDA said Zicam Cold Remedy was never formally approved because it is part of a small group of remedies that are not required to undergo federal review before launching. Known as homeopathic products, the formulations often contain herbs, minerals and flowers.

A warning letter issued to manufacturer Matrixx Initiatives on Tuesday asked the company to stop marketing its zinc-based products, but the agency did not issue a formal recall. Instead, regulators said Matrixx would have to submit safety and effectiveness data on the drug.

June 16, 2009 at 4:21 pm
(60) Alan says:

People seem to be using the gel as if it was a sinus decongestant. That is not its purpose. Its purpose is to knock down the multiplication of cold virus that is forming in the nose to help your immune system fight the cold. That’s what is triggering a person to sneeze at the onset of a cold.

Please Matrixx continue selling the gels and warn against sniffing the gel into the sinuses. As a last resort, market it with a prescription much like other drugs with side effects.

I’m a singer and need ZICAM nasel gel to help fight colds.

June 16, 2009 at 9:06 pm
(61) Pamela says:

I couldn’t figure out why my sense of smell and taste was diminishing. All of a sudden I could no longer smell certain things and taste of food is pretty much bland. Last week, we were visiting our dog at an animal hospital. When we got out of the car, my husband said there was a skunk close by. I couldn’t smell anything. I saw a beautiful golden lab near the door and as I walked toward it telling the woman how pretty the dog was, she told me I might not want to come to close (I was a couple of feet away at this point) because the dog had been sprayed by a skunk. We went into the hosptial and they were all complaining about the smell in the building. I could not smell a thing. If using this product has done this to me, it needs to be taken off of the market. I’ve read this is permanent and am saddened by that. How could they continue to make and sell this after they knew the damage it could do?

June 17, 2009 at 12:19 am
(62) MARIE says:

I have used Zicam since it first came out and love the product! As people before have said, read the directions. If you spray it all the way up a raw nose, it’s going to burn. There are many types of Zicam out now, and I much prefer the throat spray over the nose gel. It is easier to use and just as effective. Always at the first sign of a cold, I use this product; and 9 times out of 10, I ward off the cold. Of course, if you know you have a zinc allergy, do NOT use it. I have never suffered lack of smell or taste, but obviously many have. But again, did they follow the directions and apply the gel properly and not spray or snuff it into the nose (which I have to admit I have done .. luckily with no side effects). I totally back this product.

June 17, 2009 at 1:13 pm
(63) HARRY says:

I have been using Zicam for over two years with outstanding results. I have traditionally lived with a cold all winter long, and with the introduction of Zicam, those days are over. At first sign of a cold, I spray gel into each nostril, often sniffing it contrary to the directions. I still smell and taste just fine, though I am NOT recommending that anyone imitate that strategy.

Guess I’m just lucky. Won’t push my luck any longer, though. I will switch over to the throat spray — thank you, Marie (59). But fact is, I have done everything you are not supposed to do and have had no ill effects.

June 21, 2009 at 12:12 am
(64) Debbie says:

This is not a hoax. I used Zicam nasal gel in October 2008. I experienced the horrific burning in nose and throat ppl are reporting here. I have no sense of smell or taste. Occasionally I get a brief metallic earthy kind of odor. very random and the same brief “whiff” for anything. No taste.Please do not use this product. It is not worth the risk…..

June 21, 2009 at 9:28 am
(65) C.B. says:
June 21, 2009 at 1:39 pm
(66) Carol says:

I have used Zicam for several years, both swabs and gel. I NEVER ‘spray’ the gel into my nose. I squeeze a bit out onto the aplicator tip and place it BARELY inside the tip of my nose. Colds are almost nonexistant if caught at the very first sign. I believe some people must have a n allergy to zinc, or are using the product improperly.

June 23, 2009 at 2:55 pm
(67) jeanne says:

I’m a Dr. and have used Zicam for years… ever since it came out. If one follows the directions, meaning place it just inside the tip of the nose and NOT SUCK IT BACK (as one would with Afrin or other decongestants), it works great and without side effects. Those who encounter smell issues don’t follow directions, and unfortunately, have lost some ability to smell.

July 1, 2009 at 3:15 pm
(68) George Murphy says:

I’ve used ZICAM nasal gel for ten years. I’ve used it more often than suggested. I have more colds, and, as an allergy sufferer, worse colds than the average person. ZICAM has worked so well against colds, it has changed my life. I panic at the prospect of this winter without it. I generally have a cold every month except July. My sense of smell was always keener than average. It remains undiminished by my frequent use of ZICAM gel for about ten years.

July 6, 2009 at 4:39 pm
(69) Shirley says:

Can I still buy Zicam nasal gel someplace? I don’t care about the warnings. The benefits of the product outweigh the risks. Plus, I know not to snort it. I made that mistake ONE time.

November 23, 2011 at 3:21 am
(70) shayna says:

did you ever find anywhere to buy the recalled zicam? It kept me cold free for years! I need it!


July 24, 2009 at 12:04 pm
(71) NasalZincDanger says:

I doubt Jeanne above is a Doctor at all. If this person is they are a bad one that’s for sure. I know a victim who lost their sense of smell from laying down after applying the product with the old sprayer. If they know it only belongs in the lower part of the nose why not warn what happens when it gets up your nose. The directions are a lie saying Zicam only “causes irritation” in the upper part of the nose when it causes smell loss.

August 11, 2009 at 9:38 am
(72) Sharon says:

I have used Zicam for almost a decade now and have used it on both of my children with FANTASTIC results. I don’t know how I’m going to get through cold season this year without it. It’s too bad that people don’t follow the directions and cause the rest of us to do without.. Zinc gluconate can burn your olfactory nerve but it’s located a little ways up your nose – hence, DON’T SNIFF IT UP! If you have done this, the best thing you can do is to immediately flush your nasal passages/sinuses with a saline solution. I use a product called Naso-Pur (I believe that’s the name). It flushes out your sinuses when you have sinus infections or acute allergy reactions. It’s much like an enema bottle with a curve to the neck. You block the back of your throat like you’re swimming underwater (say the word “hunk” and hold the “nk”) You squirt the saline/water solution up one nostril and it flushes out your sinuses and comes out the other nostril. If your nose is burning from the zinc gel I would think you would have the instincts to flush it out immediately…but then again…you didn’t have the sense to follow the directions either…. I suppose you could use tap water in a hurry but I don’t think the chlorine is going to make you feel a whole lot better. Does anybody know where I can buy Zicam gel online? Canada perhaps?

August 25, 2009 at 11:39 pm
(73) Jennifer Mc. says:

I miss Zicam!!! I have used it for 10 years, boxes and boxes every winter and have used it on my kids. NO adverse effects. I don’t use it before bed b/c I can taste it on the back of my throat and I don’t sniff it into my sinuses. I never liked the bottle so I used to squirt the dose onto my hand and apply it with a Q-tip — before the company produced the individual swabs. I’m getting used to the oral zinc but really miss the gel. It’s funny, but all of the horrific descriptions sound like my experience with Afrin nasal spray — the intense pain and burning for hours — even temporary loss of smell. Zicam was never a cover-it-up medicine but a real cure. I miss it!

November 23, 2011 at 3:23 am
(74) shayna says:

I agree. Did you ever find where to buy the recalled Zicam Nasal Gel?


September 10, 2009 at 5:21 pm
(75) David says:

My question is on whether Zicam can cause other adverse symptoms? As far aa i know i get adverse reaction on my left side of my body when i take zicam. Dont get me wrong- i believe it works and works well. however i swear if i use it within 24 hours my left side shoulder, under the shoulder,ribs, stomach and even my left leg start to hurt in certain spots(kinda like lumps or bumps under the skin in the muscle) my left side muscles start to burn and tighten up. When i quit the Zicam it will take generally 2 months for the symptoms to go away. Anyway i just wondered if there is anyone else that gets these symptoms and do they always go away or do they lead to something longterm? or even worse.

September 17, 2009 at 8:40 pm
(76) Joey says:

Just took it…. my nose is killing me. And if you read the bottle, it says nothing about not sniffing it.

October 2, 2009 at 12:19 pm
(77) Elizabeth Sescilla, Pharm.D., R.Ph. says:

I recommended Zicam nasal gel to all my patients before it was taken off the market, BUT, I counseled them on proper use. I know that most people do not read instructions, and assume you should inhale it like similar nasal sprays. In fact, Zicam makes gel-based and aqueous nasal sprays that are NOT zinc based (they contain oxymetazoline and other nasal decongestants like Afrin, etc) and these don’t have any warning about inhalation, obviously. But the original Zicam nasal gel that contained zinconium gluconate certainly DID have the warning (I’m holding an old box in my hand now, reading it). I hate when great products get taken off the market because people don’t read instructions!!!!!

October 3, 2009 at 10:48 am
(78) bob says:

It irritates me to no end that, once again, the majority are made to suffer because a few people can’t read directions and use a product properly. I have no trouble imagining that there are people with zinc sensitivities, and for sure there should consequently be pronounced warnings for those people. For the rest of the irresponsible who did not follow the directions and sucked this stuff up into their upper sinus pockets… how bout a little accountability here! I’ve been using this stuff for years now, and it helps me profoundly… I have brought myself up out of a cold using this product, and there is nothing else on the market that I can make that claim about. I want my Zicam back… figure this out!!!!

October 8, 2009 at 8:45 pm
(79) MissingMyZicam! says:

I would be willing to SIGN A WAIVER to get my Zicam Gel back! I just put it on a Q-tip and then in the first little part of my nares and NO COLD in over 10 years! I cannot live without this. Where can I get stashed bottles? I could be a professional “nose” [I can smell what every neighbor is having for dinner, cigarettes 5 cars ahead of me on the street or around a city block corner, and a banana on a brown bag 2 days later] and have never had a problem since the product first came out…the taste of the wretched tablets or sprays ruins my sense of taste temporaily but the gel has never been a problem.

October 13, 2009 at 10:06 pm
(80) someone2no says:

I have use Zicam Cold Remedy Nasal Gel routinely for years…approximately 8 years WITHOUT loss of taste or smell. I am completely lost without it! I need to know where I can purchase as many packages as are available ANYWHERE! It is an effective, safe product used as directed.

October 15, 2009 at 7:58 pm
(81) Necel Golden says:

When my mother-in-law told me Zicam nasal gel had been taken off the market, panic overcame me. What a shame that those who did not use as directed have ruined it for the rest of us. I have used Zicam nasal gel nearly daily for over three years and have not been not sick once, even when everyone around me was sick. I used to get sick all the time. My sense of smell is just fine! Thanks a lot non-direction-following people. I WANT MY ZICAM BACK!

October 21, 2009 at 7:19 pm
(82) Monica says:

I’ve used it for years and never had a problem. I can smell everything. I really miss Zicam nasel gel it really cut down on the length of my colds and was great for prevension as well. I can’t stand using the oral stuff because it leaves a metallic taste in my mouth for at least a month afterwards, and doesn’t cut any time off of my colds.

October 28, 2009 at 3:06 am
(83) Joe says:

Yea, I just picked up a cold, its not quite congested yet, just scratchy throat. I was searching through the medicine cabinet and found some ZICAM gel tubes that have cotton-tip applicators. I opened one and almost put it in my nose but thought maybe I should search online for some directions and I AM GLAD I DID!!!! I have read too many bad things about losing smell and all that to ever consider using this product. A cold is not worth losing your sense of smell and those 5 tubes are currently sitting in the trash. I’m going to drink a relax, drink a beer, and enjoy all the smells and tastes I can before this cold gets congested. NO ZICAM FOR ME!!!!!! :-D

October 29, 2009 at 6:59 pm
(84) smd says:

Does anyone know where I can buy some, legal or not? Mexico??? I’m about ready to try rigging some up myself. Would it work if you sprayed a q-tip with the mouth spray, that is still available??? I can’t even count how many colds it has prevented me from getting, not to mention that every time I get a cold it turns into bronchitis which lingers for 6 weeks!

November 2, 2009 at 11:04 am
(85) ls says:

I have used zicam nasal gel cold remedy for many years, many times a year, and every 2-4 hours for days on end when I felt a cold coming on. I have NEVER had any problems with loss of smell and it has worked beautifully for me in preventing colds. I swear by the stuff! I have one last box of nasal swabs and I am using each swab as long as I can–I don’t know what I am going to do when I run out. I am desperate to find some zicam nasal remedies on line–where can I buy it? Is the product ever coming back on the shelves? I am outraged that ignorant people using the product incorrectly have taken it away from the rest of us.

November 5, 2009 at 9:01 pm
(86) Cee says:

I have been using Zicam for years and avoided numerous colds. As a teacher I get coughed and sneezed upon daily. If it wasn’t for Zicam, I’d be sick every month like many of my colleagues. People who complain of loss of smell and taste obviously did not follow the explicit directions on the package. The swab or the gel is only placed on the very front of the nasal passage and is NEVER breathed in. I just tap the sides of my nose 5 times and then wipe away the excess gel. I have never had any burning since I applied it correctly. I am also extremely worried about this cold season since I am out of Zicam and can’t seem to find it anywhere. I am also angry at those who didn’t follow directions and took it away from everyone!! Thanks a lot!

November 10, 2009 at 1:20 pm
(87) LZ says:

Here’s the problem I have with many over the counter medications: the instructions and warnings are housed on the packaging or on a pamphlet instead of on the actual container! Are you kidding me? We are only human:) We eventually toss the pamphlet and box. I bought my bottle over a year ago and it expires in 2010. A year later I’m supposed to remember that my NASAL SPRAY in not supposed to be inhaled? That’s like saying put this pill in your mouth but don’t swallow it. The FDA should require that all medications house the instructions on the actual container. It’s not rocket science. I could smell before I took the Zicam 2hours ago and now I can’t smell the Gruyere in my fridge..am hopeful my sense of smell will return soon. Cmon people demand that the FDA require proper labeling!!

November 11, 2009 at 4:41 pm
(88) fltwimom says:

I have used Zicam nasal gel for years with wonderful benefits. I am so sad that it was taken off the market because a few fools damaged themselves by not following the directions which CLEARLY state not to inhale the product. Now I have to suffer through my colds because of a few idiots!

November 13, 2009 at 11:05 pm
(89) Gale says:

I agree with so many comments here …that the majority must suffer due to the fact that some people just do not follow directions ! I have used Zicam Nasal Gel for many years and like so many here do not know what I am going to do this cold season with out it … Come on let us as consumers make our own choices…I too will sign a release form I just want MY ZICAM NASAL GEL BACK !!!!!!! People Read directions it clearly says DO NOT SNIFF BACK …what you don’t believe them and try it to see what it is going to do and then complain after the fact… come on people give me back my zicam FDA

November 16, 2009 at 12:37 am
(90) BG says:

So many comments here are informative. But this last one about the absence of instructions directly on the dispenser hit home. When I looked on my Zycam gel bottle the writing appeared tiny. So tiny that my first thought was…. microscope, and I then had to find a magnifying glass, only to be referred to instructions on a now discarded box! So even if instructions for proper use were present they would be largely unreadable. And, moreover, understanding how instructions tend to fade with memory, I think we might be setting ourselves up for painful surprises….unless of course we are perfect beings who don’t discard containers or possess fading memories. Now I haven’t attained this level of perfection though, so I like to request that we begin, at a bare minimum, with requiring that the instructions be placed directly upon the bottle so that us lesser beings may, with due dilligence, attain enlightenment without harrowing struggles and loss of faculties.

December 3, 2009 at 6:01 pm
(91) Eric says:

I’ve used zicam for years with no problems, and was ticked when it got pulled due to a small number of complaints. Almost certainly those people who had problems had one of 2 reasons: An allergy to some component in it; or misuse of the product (e.g. inhaling instead of putting in the lower nostril as directed). How many people are allergic to other medications and those are still on the market?? People can die from taking asprin if they’re allergic (which my wife is). However since there are many more people who can benefit by it, there are simply warnings that if you have a reaction, stop using it. Should be the same with zicam!

Perhaps what the company should do is come up with a different delivery system that doesn’t look like your standard nose-spray. Maybe have it thicker and shorter with the holes on the sides rather than the top-center. That way it’d be directed towards the lower walls of the nostril, and less likely to be inhaled.

December 8, 2009 at 12:41 am
(92) Chris says:

Excellent idea Eric. I love it.
I have used this product as early as last Wednesday night. Ever since I sprayed it both my nostrils feel like they have been set afire! The burning has NOT ceased yet. Try sleeping with this pain going on, not well tolerated. I have lost quite a bit of sleep and it is FINALS week. Don’t need this to break the concentration.
I will NEVER use this stuff ever again. I have spent every day, 2 times a day and every night irrigating my sinuses with salt water. That has helped believe it or not, but it is only temporary. I tried putting neospohrine, vicks, lip balm, vitamine E,in my nose to get some kind of relief. There is NOTHING that works! It is still burning and today is the following Monday, 5 days later. And NO, I DID NOT SNIFF IT! I followed the directions. It felt as if there were a hot poker being shoved all the way thru into my frontal cortex. And about the sueing, not everybody chooses to sue. It takes alot of evidence to win your side in court. How exactly would one prove that this product having been sprayed in an individuals’ notril be blamed for the effect?
Gee if all it took was to say “this is the product” and “this is me spraying the product in my nose” and then “this is the effect”, EVERYBODY that ever used this product, (or didn’t) would have sued by
now, with really, evidence of nothing.
Enough people have made a claim rallying against the product and others for it. The company lost customers because of it. Possibly and hopefully as Eric suggested the company will change it’s design of the dispenser tip and the spray will then be redirected, thus causing the end to spray dispensing upward or the possibility of being able to snort or sniff it upward.

December 9, 2009 at 2:25 am
(93) Julie-Ann says:

I just started using the Zicam Liquid Lozenges today – I’ve never used Zicam before. BAD reaction! It totally changed my sense of taste and now my nose has been bleeding for over an hour. I have never had a nose bleed in my life!

I don’t think Zicam gel got pulled because people can’t follow directions. I just think people react differently. I’ll just know not to use it again.

December 9, 2009 at 9:46 am
(94) Mark says:

The throat spray does not work! I am coming off the worst cold I have had since using the nasal gel product for 5 years. I want the nasal gel back.

December 15, 2009 at 4:34 pm
(95) michelle says:

I think the people who experienced the loss of smell and taste did not read and follow the instructions at all! My 12 year old daughter and I both use this product and have never once experienced any problems at all. As a matter of fact we are both using what we have left this week to battle possible colds we are both getting. After we finish this bottle we’re out of luck because of a few “rebels” who decided it was ok to shove this up their nose and then inhale as deeply as possible after using it.

Finally found something that worked, haven’t had 1 cold in I don’t know how many years and now we’re going to have to suffer the loss of this great product due to people’s lack of reading abilities. Makes me mad!!

December 30, 2009 at 12:49 pm
(96) Tom says:

I have used Zicam jell swabs for years. I am aware of the smell and taste loss side effects others have experienced, but I cannot take the normal cold medicines so I tried Zicam and it really helped. I also read the label and followed the instructions exactly. Like others have said, there are medications out there that can kill you and they are still on the market. One has to weigh the risks vs. the benefits and decide for oneself whether to take the chance. The jell swabs are much easier to use and insure that the medicine stays around the entrance of the nose, never up into the nose. I agree that the spray version is to much like other nasal sprays and a person might think that it should be inhaled up into the nose. However, if one reads the instructions for the spray, it very specifically says “Do not inhale!!” I hope that Zicam will bring back the jell swabs with proper warnings on the box to protect the user. I suggest that those of us that want it back call the manufacturer at 1-877-942-2626 and ask them to bring it back to market.

January 10, 2010 at 7:15 pm
(97) T.Marie says:

Oh my god this is one of the stupidest hoaxes I ever saw. I have used that product a bunch of times and I am perfectly ok.

January 11, 2010 at 2:37 pm
(98) Michelle says:

Ok folks – let’s think about this rationally. Everyone is allergic to something at one time or another. Whether it’s penicillin, aspirin, or Zicam – it’s NOT the majority, it’s the minority of people that should not use the stuff. Ok, so it hurt for awhile – stop using it. But for those of us, including me, that’s used it for years (approx. 5) and have not had any problems, why should we be punished just because you had a side affect? This is the only product that has ever worked for me – now what do I use? My colds – they few I had after I started using it – would disappear within a day or two and sometimes within hours of using the nasal spray if I could use it soon enough! Why should the rest of us that love how it works for us be punished – I think it’s very unfair to us loyal customers to have this taken off the shelves. I’m sorry some of you have had so many problems – in fact I’m allergic to Ibuprofin – my kidneys shut down and I had to have dialysis for 2 months – how about we have that removed too! I’m sure if we looked hard and wide we’d find alot of people that had similiar reactions – stop picking on Zicam!

January 11, 2010 at 6:05 pm
(99) D says:

I have to say I used the Zicam extreme congestion relief spray yesterday, and while it did work really freaking well, I noticed right away that although I could breathe through my nose (finally!) I could not smell anything. I was over at a friends house and she was showing me this herb collection that she has. She handed me a jar full of cardamom and I could not smell a thing. She was shocked because she said it was extremely fragrant. I just assumed it would wear off after I am done using the product. Now that I have researched it today, I’m a little worried, but I think it should be fine since I have actually used this product before with no side effect…we’ll see!

January 14, 2010 at 3:09 pm
(100) Uomo Del Ghiaccio says:

I know approx. 20 to 30 people who have used Zicam Gel swabs or spray for years to ward off the common cold. I’ve never heard of a anyone before who used it as a nasal decongestant.

I do not know of a single person who has experienced the burning sensation or the loss of smell that appear to be posted here. I wish that the Zicam Gel Swabs and Spray are allowed to be sold again with a warning that a few people may experience a burning sensation or a temporary loss of smell.

If you listen to the pharmaceutical ads on television I heard that some symptoms of a drug may even cause death. A burning sensation and temporary loss of smell is small potatoes.

One thing for sure, there are bound to be a gaggle of lawyers that will line their pockets with gold from this. I wonder how many accounts are indeed truthful, exaggerated or down right lies in hopes for a monetary payday.

January 21, 2010 at 11:05 pm
(101) BD says:

I loved the Zicam Nasal Gel/Swab. It works like a miracle product. Using it, I never had a full blown cold for a period of over 2 years. I’m now using the RapidMelts, but they don’t work as well as the Gel.

Where can I go to buy the Zicam Nasal Gel? Can I get a prescription for zinc gluconate gel from my doctor? I’m willing to sign off on any waiver for this Nasal Gel. I want my Zicam back!

January 22, 2010 at 2:25 pm
(102) Elliott W. says:

i live in pittsburgh and just bought zicam chewables and nasal gel spray from local grocery store.

January 24, 2010 at 7:51 am
(103) CarolynW says:

Zicam swabs are silll available as of January 24, 2010 from the website listed above. ZICAM RULES!

January 24, 2010 at 7:53 am
(104) Zicam Rules says:

If you miss your Zicam Cold Remedy Swabs, you can find them the the above website.

January 24, 2010 at 7:55 am
(105) Zicam Rules says:

the website is americaiswatching.org

January 25, 2010 at 3:24 pm
(106) DB says:

There is no way that anyone would have to use anything with extreme potential side effects like this product has for just a cold. Take vitamin c, dayquil, nyquil, and drink as much water as you can. There is no reason to risk the side effects just because you think it will cure you in a day.

February 24, 2010 at 1:29 pm
(107) Todd says:

I used Zicam about three weeks ago. Immediately after use, it made my dick hard as a rock, and it stayed hard for more than 4 hours. Luckily, my wife was home at the time, and she said I gave her the ride of her life. Yesterday, she brought home an entire case of the stuff.

March 8, 2010 at 2:43 pm
(108) Holly says:

I love Zicam, any time I get the slightest inclination of a cold coming I begin the Zicam with no problems and no cold! I think there may be some people who are sensitive to the zinc, and or didn’t follow the directions for the nasal gel, it’s not a spray, and you do not inhale it, you just let it sit in the opening of your nostrils for 10-15 seconds, then blow your nose. I recently went to purchase the nasal gel to stop an oncoming cold, and to my dismay the cold remedy nasal gel with the zinc was no where to be found. They do have allergy and sinus relief nasal gels, but they do not contain the cold stopping zinc. I had to settle for the rapid melt tabs, which work, I just always preferred the nasal gel. Maybe this product would still be available if people read the directions, and didn’t inhale it causing burning and pain in the nose. It is labeled as “homeopathic” and may not work for everyone, definitely works for me, and I will continue to use it!

March 8, 2010 at 11:49 pm
(109) Lillian says:

Please bring Zicam Nasal Swabs back. It is a great product and won’t hurt you if you follow directions

April 19, 2010 at 10:13 pm
(110) Soren says:

Zicam may have only worked as a placebo, but it definitely helped me. I have been using it since it appeared on the shelves in 1999 or 2000 because the science sounded fairly reasonable. I was getting tired of catching a cold every 3-4 months thanks to working in IT and touching everybody’s equipment(ha!) so I tried every one of the “gimmick” products. It surprised the hell out of me when Zicam actually WORKED! That’s 10 years of use with ZERO side effects for this guy. Seriously, people, get a friggin allergy test before you try new products so that you can hopefully identify a problem ingredient before it harms you!!!

April 26, 2010 at 4:19 pm
(111) Bill Stuart says:

I used Zicam whenever I felt a cold coming on and it worked so well. I would love to have access to it today.

May 18, 2010 at 6:55 am
(112) h Nicholson says:

love the product, worked great! Sorry we must suffer because people misused it or are just looking to cash in on a law suit. Put a warning label on it and bring it back..P L E A S E.

September 17, 2010 at 11:16 pm
(113) hello name says:

I’ve used the nasal spray for years, when I had a cold, especially before going to bed (sleeping is a problem with a stuffy nose). It takes few minutes to work, but it easily opened up my nasal passages and I was able to sleep without a problem (except maybe the scratchy throat, but it didn’t bother that much). I don’t know why people are reporting that they’re losing their sense of smell, but this medication has helped me sleep for years. And when I wake up – no stuffy nose at all! I think it works for 15-20 hours. It’s some great stuff, and I’d recommend it to anyone.

September 23, 2010 at 6:49 am
(114) Roy says:

it is funny how the original Zicam product was the cause for the complaints of the sinus burning and loss of smell and now somehow when Zicam no longer makes its original product with the zinc in it but is now using a product that is used by other companies also, (the extremme nasal congestion gel is a commonly used ingredient, its just that it is in a gel form) all of a sudden Zicam extreme nasal congestion gel is causing extreme nasal problems. If that were so, other products would be causing the same symptoms. Get your stories straight people, Zicam no longer uses the zinc in thier nasal spray and it was the zinc that was causing the problem. I loved the zinc gels. I used both the swabs and the gel and I got relief from colds within days and after using the gel, I caught fewer colds.

December 8, 2010 at 1:08 pm
(115) Bern says:

Zicam zinc-based nasal gel is a miracle drug. I have used it for years with olfactory mishap. Additionally, before Zicam, I used to get awful sinus infections a few times per year, that could only be treated with anitbiotics. Since using Zicam, I have NOT had a sinus infection that required anitbiotics. I am now stuck using what little we have left very judiciously. Anyone know where I can get more?

December 11, 2010 at 12:19 pm
(116) Mike says:

Hi, I used Zicam cold remedy gel swabs for 2 years, with no problems. The first sneeze I would start using it and a cold would never develop. Since the recall I get colds and very bad sinus problems every 6 months and they last at least 2 months. There was one side effect I noticed and it was a great side effect. I have tinnitus and the Zicam reduced the severity of the tinnitus. While using Zicam my tinnitus levels would be a 2 to 5. On a basis of 1 to 10, 10 being worst. Now that zicam cold remedy gel swabs are off the market my tinitus is back to being a 8 to 10 in severity every minute of every day. Bottom Line, Zicam worked GREAT for me.

December 12, 2010 at 8:31 pm
(117) Jenny says:

So- here is a little secret—the Zicam Cold Sore Gel swabs (NOT made to be place din the nose BTW) contain the active ingredient Zinc 2X that was in the original swabs…I have been using these to ward off colds for 6 months now…I cant stand the mentholatum that si in it as well…..but I have lost my sense of smell and am desparate to keep colds at bay…I am a doctor and this is the ONLY product (the recalled Zicam Gel swabs and the cold sore version) that has kept me healthy and cold free working with hundreds of contagious patients a week!I would still VERY much like to have access to a web site to purchase the original recalled product- does anyone have any info? In the mean time….those of you who know the wonders of these gel swabs may want to “carefully” try the Cold sore swabs. Good Luck!

December 12, 2010 at 8:33 pm
(118) Jenny says:

Ha! Sorry folks that should read that I HAVE NOT lost my sense of smell in my above post..holy cow what a typo….poor Zycam , like they need THAT rumor to take over next!

December 17, 2010 at 7:54 pm
(119) Mark says:

I’m dubious regarding all the hysteria regarding burning sensations and loss of sense of smell. I’ve used the gel for years and still have my sense of smell. This stuff works wonders. Having a cold is not only irritating, its debilitating. I’m tired of having vacations, family reunions and other important events ruined by colds. Let the people who like it still have access to it.

January 2, 2011 at 7:40 am
(120) Zelda Nichols says:

Not remembering the news reports on Zicam several years ago, I used the swabs this past Thursday and Friday. I DID read the directions and only used on the very first part of the outer side of the inside of the nostril. Since then, I have had three very bad nose bleeds, the last two being more a hemorrage than simple nosebleed. Last night was the worst and I will be going to see my doctor as soon as possible.

I have not lost my sense of smell but the nose bleeds are scary.

January 9, 2011 at 12:35 pm
(121) Sheila Vernick says:

I have been devastated since Zicam nasal cold-relief swabs were taken off the market. I realize that there are 2 factors at play in this disaster: first – that people were misusing them by sticking them down the back of their nostrils. Clearly they DID NOT READ THE DIRECTIONS FOR USE. Second, that the stores are in morbid fear of liablility for selling them, even though there are satisfied consumers like myself who depended upon them.
This might be an instance of howling at the moon: unfortunately my one cold remedy is not available; the other products are pitiful.

January 11, 2011 at 6:56 pm
(122) maus says:

Anything that calls itself “homeopathic” but has active ingredients in it is potentially dangerous.

Something “homeopathic” is only water, so any additives are untested and fully unregulated.

February 8, 2011 at 4:51 pm
(123) Peter says:

I started hearing all this negative stuff about Zicam so I went to the drug store to check it out…All I did was pick up a box of it and hold the box up to my nose and give it a little sniff and BAM!!! I instantly went smell blind!

February 24, 2011 at 9:04 am
(124) Jennifer says:

I had problems after using the extreme congestion nasal gel spray two weeks ago. I followed the directions on the box. I did not shove the applicator deep into my nostril. I keep it just at the bottom of my nostril. I gave two sprays in each nostril, as directed. I sniffed deeply, as directed. I did not tilt my head. The product did clear my nasal passage and sinuses, but now I have a diminished sense of smell. I used to be able to smell anything from across the room. Now I can only smell things that are directly under my nose. Food does not taste as good anymore either.

February 28, 2011 at 7:48 am
(125) CarolynW says:

There are still some of the original Zicam Cold Remedy gel swabs available here. It’s the only thing that REALLY WORKS when it comes to keeping a cold away, or making one less severe if you’ve already caught it. You have to wonder if that is why it was bullied out of existence, as it outsold all of the other OTC cold remedies made by other companies. Even Snopes says “undetermined” as to the claim that it made people lose their sense of smell. We want our Zicam back! http://www.americaiswatching.org/Zicam.html is the only place I’ve found that still has a supply. Everyone else is OUT!

March 8, 2011 at 7:58 pm
(126) amyMVR says:


This is IMPORTANT – the ALLERGY RELIEF spray is a homepathic spray. The Sinus relief spray and the Congestion relief spray have a totally different ingredient – Oxymetazoline. It is not homeopathic. I have used the Sinus relief without negative side effects, but it clearly states that you should only use it once in a 12 hour period, and not more than 3 days.

March 12, 2011 at 12:58 pm
(127) Angela says:

I used it for two day three times and I loss my sense of smell and taste. I took about a week to get it back somewhat fully. I would never use it ever again. Not being able to taste is horrible and smell is horrible also. So I would say don’t stick anything up your nose.

March 16, 2011 at 6:47 pm
(128) emily says:

Read directions! It can only be used once every 12 hours!!!! Only 2 drops! No wonder u lost your smell when using it every 2 hours!

September 26, 2011 at 2:42 pm
(129) Melissa says:

I agree,
Emily!! No wonder! People probably think that they will get over the cold faster if they take more of it….Dangerous.

March 19, 2011 at 11:03 pm
(130) Shelley says:

I LOVE Zicam! It worked so many times for me for years. I used to teach and the germ bag kids were always sick. I’m so distraught that the gel swabs are removed due to stupid people misusing a great product. I even used it incorrectly a few times – snorted it-and had no ill effects.

September 23, 2011 at 11:18 am
(131) kelly says:

I agree with emily!!!

I LOVE IT!! My husband and I both used it and never than one problem. I miss it, I wish the swabs were back!!!!

September 26, 2011 at 2:44 pm
(132) Melissa says:

I agree with Emily also! Also are these problems people are having do to allergic reactions at all??

December 11, 2011 at 10:03 am
(133) Tammy says:

This stuff is dangerous. I too had the intense burning and visible swelling. It made my my throat bleed. My husband had no reaction. Luckily after several hours I just had the worst sore throat of my life, but can still smell and taste. There hastobesome truth to this story asit is the same terror I lived, but I luckily can still smell

December 31, 2011 at 4:19 pm
(134) Rhoda says:

Well, I used the Zicam gel today, just once and it is killing me. I got on this site to see what side effects there were or what to do. I have the intense burning in my nose and my eye is burning so badly, terrible pain in my head above my eye. What in the world was that? Can anyone tell me how you got rid of the pain? I do not know if I have lost sense of smell or taste, I just want the pain to go away. I’ll never do that again.

January 16, 2012 at 8:40 am
(135) Andrea Franz says:

I am still mourning the loss of zicam gel for colds. It truly was a miracle product. Everybody in my family used it and our colds would be gone by morning. I found one zicam gel stick in a drawer and saved it. Yesterday, I began feeling miserable and I used it. I did not discard it but instead used it every 4 hours until it was dry. I’m sure it must be expired but I feel better this morning. I feel a bit guilty since my children miss so much school due to colds but I didn’t have enough of it to go around anyway.

I don’t doubt that some people experienced either an allergic reaction or maybe an interaction with other medications they were using. How many people are seriously allergic to peanuts? They haven’t taken them off the market!

I am willing to experiment with making this stuff myself. I’d appreciate any input on that. I NEED MY ZICAM BACK!

February 6, 2012 at 4:09 am
(136) Lucy says:

I just wish they’d put it back on the market. I am using the last of the very first bottle I bought when it first came out. I am crying that I will have no way to avoid colds in future. I think many people used this product wrongly. Alcohol kills people too, but I don’t see them taking that off the market. I feel bad for folks who have had a real allergy attack after using it, but then, just don’t use it.

March 25, 2012 at 11:23 pm
(137) LadyDaisy says:

I’ve been using Zicam Nasal Spray for allergies after others werent working for me.Put the tip in the tip of your nose pointing outward spray once hold your fingers on your nose and squeeze. No inhaling. Nothing. Great. Been using it for about 2 weeks. Great results but … this morning NOSE BLEEDING LIKE CRAZY! I’m over 65 and havent had a nosebleed ever! So here I am on the laptop searching and see all about losing sense of smell?? Guess what? ZICAM is now out in the garbage. They do warn you about the nosebleeds though,

June 3, 2012 at 1:31 pm
(138) mary says:

I am SO unhappy this is off market I have babied my Laste Few Swabs and still have some left in my nasal cold remedy gel bottle, This is the Absolute BEST Product ever ! Soon as you feel a bit like you may be getting sick , use this CORRECTLY And you Do Not get Sick at all. I would HOPE this will come back on market for those of us who WISH to USE it ! I am searching everywhere for some , ebay , etc. so far only found a 75.00 bottle . a bit high ….

October 13, 2012 at 9:05 am
(139) Norman Lancaster says:

the first time i used it i shot it up my nose and it burned like hell but then i read the DIRECTIONS and used it i love it and i bought a supply and still use it without any burning READ THE DIRECTIONS

October 19, 2012 at 9:12 pm
(140) jill says:

Has anyone else tried to use the cold sore swabs for colds? I read one person here who did and it worked, but it seems like it’s twice the amount of zinc as the original.

November 16, 2012 at 2:13 am
(141) gus says:

I still have the gel. bought a bunch of it before they took it off the market. FANTASTIC product. Vicks,Robitussin,Cough Drop companies, etc. are multi-billion dollar businesses. Zicam gel was a huge threat to these corporate monsters.Rush Limbaugh, Howard Stern and a slew of other people all say this small Zicam company was sabotaged. The big fish eats the little fish.

November 17, 2012 at 3:47 pm
(142) Anthony says:

I lost my sense of smell from Zicam 4 years ago and it never returned. I have been told the loss is permanent as the receptors in my sinuses were destroyed. The pain from the event that caused this was so intense I was sure I was having a stroke or brain hemorrhage. Please be cautious! I cant tell you how miserable life is when you you can’t smell or taste anything and won;t be able to ever again.

December 11, 2012 at 12:51 pm
(143) Laverne says:

I’m still using what was left of the cold preventative gel (at least 6 years) & have not had a cold lasting more than 3 days. AND, I can smell odors others cannot. I would like to buy more, as my supply is getting low but cannot find it – any ideas?

December 11, 2012 at 12:56 pm
(144) Laverne says:

For you people who lost your sense of smell, you weren’t supposed to spray it far up into your nose or sinuses. I used q-tips to apply just barely inside my nostrils & prevented numerous colds – AND

December 26, 2012 at 11:35 pm
(145) Kevin says:

I used it for several years , no problems ,the gel just enough inside the nostrils. then pinch for a minute ,then blow your nose. that’s it.
didn’t have a cold for more than a day with this stuff, I also would use saline nasal Spray an hour after using zicam gel, and also would use cold eeze lozenges if the cold seemed bad ,the combination of these worked well. now I can’t find the gel my bottle is empty. q-tips is a safe way to use it
you might try putting it in one nostril opening and see if it causes burning, before using it in both. i never put it all the way inside my nose ,that would not be following the directions.

February 4, 2013 at 5:53 pm
(146) Gillian says:

I have Extreme Zicam Nasal Gel spray, used it one time created a burning sensation in sinuses and extreme pain behind the eyes which also felt like my head was under great pressure. My face was swollen especially my eyes and nasal passages. Went to the doctor with 48 hours since I could not take the headaches any longer. Plus my skin around my nose and eyes hurt to the touch. Doctor said that my nasal passage had inflammation. It has been exactly one week today and the left side of my nose and around my eyes are still experiencing pain. Zicam Extreme Nasal Gel Spray should be removed. I am going to see an ENT this week to see if there is any permanent damage!!!!

February 22, 2013 at 7:49 pm
(147) Jazzy says:

No it’s definitely NOT a scam. I used Zicam nose spray in 2005 to clear congested sinuses a few times until one time caused a severe burning pain in the back of my throat. It was so intense I had to keel over on the floor and kept swallowing and drinking water to try and wash it away. The burned area affected a joint in my cervical spine and I felt a bulge in the back of my throat. I’ve had ongoing health issues since. I didn’t lose my sense of smell or taste but this illness it set off has plagued me for 7 seven years. I am now debilitating and have repeated episodes and trying to get doctors to believe me and find the damage it created.

March 26, 2013 at 7:10 am
(148) Mary says:

For me, Zicam Extreme Congestion Relief aloe vera nasal gel has been a god-send for relief of nasal congestion (indoor allergies). Tried other OTC nasal preparations and Rx products without congestion relief.
Zicam nasal gel’s the only product I’ve used that gives me quick relief, lowers my anxiety (that comes with total nasal congestion), allows me to get a good night’s sleep, and helps keep me productive at work (indoor air).
I haven’t lost sense of smell or taste and have used this product on/off for a couple of years during the winter months.
Wish I could still find the large bottle which was more cost effective than the 0.5-oz bottle.
Grateful Zicam user.

March 27, 2013 at 8:10 am
(149) Shelley says:

Has anyone tried using the oral mist for colds in their nose? I read that one person put some on a q-tip and applied it inside their nose. I miss the nasal gel swabs for colds so much.

November 19, 2013 at 2:51 pm
(150) Lora says:

The people that have stated that Zicam caused them severe pain in their head, nose, ears and even teeth are not making it up. It happened to me as well and they are not exaggerating!!! I was alone and could not drive myself or I would have visited ER too. I think it should be banned!!!

January 4, 2014 at 1:41 pm
(151) todd says:

Ya when I used it my face turned green and i lost all sense of touch and feel in my whole body.
Then I started to have convulsions and started puking blood.
My feet started turning green and all my hair fell out.
But my cold was over,

Thanks Zicam,


This is just a bunch of BS to put Zicam out of business.
Cold season is a billion dollar industry and if we are all cured the cold relief compaies will loose a lot of money.

February 4, 2014 at 5:57 pm
(152) Lenny says:

I truly believe this product has caused problems for people, as right on the labels of the nasal gel swabs that have been taken off the market it clearly said and I paraphrase “Do not apply all the way inside of nose. Only swab the rings of your nostrils and the outside of the nostrils” . And I believe side effects were loss of smell, which leads to loss of taste. So clearly if you lathered up the inside of your nose, like they told you not to, you could cause some damage and people did. They did it to themselves by misusing the product. Just like the people on here saying “oh I inhaled the gel and my face started burning” or “I only sniffed it in because it was dripping”. Obviously your face “is on fire” because you sent the gel all through your nasal passages which youll feel behind your eyes and in your throat .You also misused the product as they clearly put on the label “only apply to beginning of nasal cavity”. By shooting it into your nose and inhaling you used it incorrectly. If its dripping, wipe your nose with a tissue. The people who use these products correctly, like myself, shouldn’t be punished because of the people who can’t or won’t follow directions and then want to complain when the side effects, that they tell you about, happen. You chose to use the product. Its not the company’s fault if you use it wrong. Its like lighting yourself on fire with a lighter and then trying to sue Bic because they made it.

March 29, 2014 at 4:44 pm
(153) jake says:

I just started using the Zicam oral spray (honey lemon flavor) on Thursday hoping to prevent the onset of a cold.It does appear to lessen the symptoms of my cold. But after 2 days of not being able to taste (a burrito w/hots, pizza, coffee or Hostess cupcake) Im going to toss Iit. Just to strange a sensation for me. I am optimistic my tastebuds will return after stopping usage. Fingers crossed.

April 6, 2014 at 10:50 am
(154) Diana says:

I used Zicam nasal for years to combat colds. It worked amazingly well. Have tried the oral lozenges since they took the nasal swabs off the market, but they simply don’t work as well. Never lost any sense of smell. The entire campaign to remove it from shelves was backed by pharmaceutical lobbyists. What causes a person to lose their sense of smell permanently after being ill with a cold/upper respiratory illness is a specific virus–not Zicam–the virus actually affects the nerves in the nasal passages. If a person is allergic to zinc, they can have an adverse effect, of course. I wish it was still on the market, but it isn’t :-( .

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