What are the Most Common Causes of a Scratchy Dry Throat?

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  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 21 April 2019
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Dry heat and pollutants are among the many things that may cause or contribute to a scratchy dry throat. A person may also develop throat irritation because of allergies, respiratory illnesses, and bacterial infections. In some cases, the chemicals a person uses and exposure to smoke from tobacco products may cause this symptom as well. Even the consumption of spicy foods may play a role.

Dry indoor air is among the frequent causes of a scratchy dry throat. During the winter months and in cold climates, people typically use heating systems to stay warm indoors. This heat often causes the indoor air to become dry, which can irriate the throat. In many cases, a person may notice the scratchiness upon waking up in the morning, although it can occur at any time of the day or night.

People with allergies can also develop this symptom. For example, a person with an allergy to pollen may notice that his throat feels scratchy and dry when he goes outside in the spring. Even such substances as pet danger, dust, and mold may cause or contribute to a dry throat. If an individual has post-nasal drip along with his allergies, the irritation may prove even worse.


Respiratory infections often cause a dry, scratchy throat as well. Someone who has a cold or the flu may develop a sore throat as a symptom of the illness. In fact, with some types of cold and flu viruses, the scratchy dry throat is often the first symptom a person notices. Nasal congestion may contribute to this problem as well if it causes post-nasal drip.

A bacterial infection may also cause this problem, and strep throat is a fairly common source. Whooping cough and diphtheria are other illneses caused by bacteria that have throat irriation as a major symptom. Diphtheria is not common in developed countries, however.

In many cases, environmental irritants are the cause when a person suffers from a dry, scratchy throat. A person may develop throat irritation because of pollution in the air or chemicals he has used in an enclosed space. Cigar or cigarette smoke can also be a major cause. Interestingly, even such things as chewing tobacco and spicy foods may cause a person to develop a dry, irritated throat.


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