Oxymetazoline [ok-see-met-AZ-of-leen] is a direct-acting synthetic adrenergic agonist that stimulates both α1- and α2adrenergic receptors. It is primarily used locally in the eye or the nose as a vasoconstrictor. Oxymetazoline is found in many over-the-counter short-term nasal spray decongestant products as well as in ophthalmic drops for the relief of redness of the eyes associated with swimming, colds, or contact lens.
The mechanism of action of oxymetazoline is direct stimulation of α receptors on blood vessels supplying the nasal mucosa and the conjunctiva to reduce blood flow and decrease congestion. Oxymetazoline is absorbed in the systemic circulation regardless of the route of administration and may produce nervousness, headaches, and trouble sleeping. When administered in the nose, burning of the nasal mucosa and sneezing may occur. Rebound congestion is observed with long-term use.