**Check out this post to learn what alternative treatment to use instead of nose vaseline!**
Viruses and allergies can cause damage to the lining of the nose. When these tissues become irritated, they may swell and cause a host of medical problems and possibly some severe viral infection complications. Nasal congestion often results because of swelling of the blood vessels in the nose. These vessels are located very close to the surface of the nose and when excess rubbing or nose blowing occurs, nosebleeds result.
Keeping in mind that a swollen inflamed nose is often the initial reason the nosebleed is possible. Preventing colds and flu as well as aggressively treating nasal allergies should be done to avoid nosebleeds!
The number one treatment many people use to treat a dry nose or nosebleed is by placing Vaseline in the nose. If used on occasion, this treatment may not cause an issue; however, it must be clear that repeatedly placing Vaseline in the nose may lead to life-threatening illnesses, especially in young children.
When the lining of the nose becomes dry, it can be extremely uncomfortable. The dryness can lead to children picking their noses more often, which can lead to sores, infections and of course nosebleeds.
Why does the nose get dry? Well, that is because the lining of the nose is supposed to make mucus which has many health benefits. There are many reasons the lining of the nose becomes damaged and does not properly make mucus as it should.
However, when we have a cold, many of us constantly blow our noses and we remove too much mucus. Yes. The number one reason for a dry nose is blowing your nose too much!
Vaseline in the nose is commonly used when these things cause a dry nose:
- Dehydration, because you are just not drinking enough water!
- Medications, like antihistamines for allergies
- Dry environments, like the desert
- Smoking, which is just one of a million reasons you should not smoke
- True Medical conditions where mucus production is reduced in several areas of the body
So first things first, avoid doing things that lead to the dry nose. Drink your water, stop drying medications and of course, QUIT SMOKING. (That’s just a PSA from every doctor, everywhere in the world!). Secondly, do not place Vaseline in the nose. This is the take-home message from this post!
If you live in dry environments, have an underlying medical problem, or just need time to recover from a viral illness or a cold, I suggest some of the following dry nose treatments. All treatments can be effective and avoid placing Vaseline in the nose.
When noses become very dry, recurrent nosebleeds become a problem. Here are some home care tips for relieving nosebleeds that do not involve using Vaseline:
- Pinch the nose
- Lean head forward (not lift up chin)
- Use Afrin to help clamp blood vessels (but avoid overuse and Afrin addiction!)
- Do not blow out blood clots
- Pinch nose MUCH longer than you think you need to. Do not pinch and release repeatedly.
- If the nosebleeds are recurrent see your physician to find out the cause.
Treatments for a dry nose that do not involve Vaseline in the nose
- Saltwater nasal washes can work miracles to treat nasal problems. Details about the benefits of nasal saline can be found here.
- Facial humidifier
- Saltwater nasal gels, like AYR
- Steam from shower or sauna
Many people report lists of their techniques to treat dry noses and reduce nosebleeds. The lists all tend to include ways to increase nasal moisture so feel free to use what works best for you.
I have admitted that Vicks VapoRub has been a staple in my house for treating illnesses. There are no studies that prove that it does anything, but it has been passed down for generations and seems to make us feel better. I have used in under the nose and on the chest for my kids but NEVER does it go inside the nose. Why? Well, one of the ingredients in Vicks VapoRub is petroleum jelly, which is what is used to make Vaseline. Plus, the bottle says that it should not be placed in the nose!
Now for the information you have been waiting for. The million dollar question is: Why should we avoid putting Vaseline in the nose? The first part of the answer requires you to know what Vaseline is.
What is Vaseline?
Vaseline Petroleum Jelly is an amazing product that is incredible to use on the skin. It is a non-toxic formula made for skin care. A little-known fact is that Vaseline does not contain water, so bacteria do not tend to grow in the mixture and allows Vaseline to be stored for long periods of time. I think close to forever! (Just kidding but it feels that way!)
Just a little history: Petroleum jelly was initially produced as a result of refining oil. Back in the 1800s, it was noted to be the slimy substance in the bottom of oil rigs! Yes, our beloved Vaseline was discovered as a by-product of the oil industry. Now extensive processing happens to make it safe to use on our bodies.
Vaseline has many benefits when used for purposes located on the skin, hair or nails. The product has been clearly marked to be used externally only. On the skin, and not inside the body. This list of 17 unique uses for Vaseline is incredible. I never thought of many of these! And this list of 20 Vaseline uses repeats many but who knew it was good for pest control?
However, if small amounts are accidentally eaten, it is safe. SMALL amounts. Again, avoid placing this mixture inside the body. The main reason for this is that Vaseline can only melt or dissolve when it is in contact with fats and oils. Our skin has oil glands so it will break down and dissolve the Vaseline.
Why is putting Vaseline in the nose dangerous?
As described above, Vaseline will only dissolve when it comes into contact with fats and oils. The lining of the nose, mouth, and lungs do not have oils; therefore, Vaseline stays intact and collects.
When you place Vaseline in the nose at night, small amounts of the Vaseline run down the back of the nose and throat. Normally, this is swallowed and fats in the stomach can dissolve the jelly.
However, it is common for all of us to inhale small amounts of nasal drainage into our lungs at night.
If Vaseline is inhaled repeatedly, it collects in the lungs and can cause life-threatening pneumonia, called a lipoid pneumonia. This type of pneumonia is extremely difficult to treat because it is not caused by bacteria but instead is due to a collection of oil that leads to severe inflammation.
Because this pneumonia is rare, many people disregard the potential danger. Even physicians disagree about the risk of placing Vaseline in the nose.
The bottom line is that parents should make informed decisions when it comes to the health of their kids. Children have shorter necks and drainage from the nose reaches the lungs more readily; therefore, small lungs may develop swelling that leads to severe trouble breathing.
When there are many safer treatments, why would you need to repeatedly risk a life-threatening lung injury in your child? Many parents have become creative about inventing home remedies to treat dry noses, but I suggest you remember that even natural health oils may collect in the lungs of sleeping children.
And be sure to check out the DrMommaSays podcast episode which shares the best alternative to nose vaseline use.
As always, much love for supporting my work. I will be adding many more posts to highlight parenting and healthcare tips, so be sure to consider subscribing to my podcast or to my blog to avoid missing a post!
Yikes!! I used to get awful nosebleeds and had a doctor tell me to put Vaseline in my nose when I was pregnant cause I got multiple bad nosebleeds a day. Haven’t had a nosebleed since but I always use it cause my nose is otherwise way too dry. So I’m definitely in danger of what you’re talking about.
Adults are less susceptible than young kids but you could buy some nasal saline to squeeze in for moisture then apply AYR saline gel. All of this is over the counter for use as directed. Just feel it would be good to substitute out that Vaseline!
Thanks Dr.B!! I use vasaline occasionally inside and on the outside of my nose Bc it helps after having bloody noses sometimes as well as after using nasal spray. Is it okay to use occasionally or should I just do the nasal spray with allergies and sometimes bloody noses? Also, I used vasaline a long time ago, but does it take extra time if continue to use vasaline for the risks to occur or if I use it occasion!ky I will be fine. Thanks for the warning and please respond.
Yes it is fine to occasionally use, but everyone has a different idea of what “occasional” means. It is a good idea to get some AYR saline ointment to have on hand for use. Many, many people use vaseline with no problems, but they were not aware any possible risks were associated with it. if you can avoid potential risks, then it is a good idea to have another plan.
Wow, I definitely didn’t know this! I’ll have to keep this in mind.
Yes, many people have heard of it so if a need arises, they naturally use it. I suggest having the nasal saline and AYR saline gels at home so they are available if ever needed!
Woah, I never knew people were doing this. Sounds like a terrible idea to begin with! Glad you’re helping to dispel this practice.
Yes, it is actually extremely common and no one thinks about the fact the jar always has stated to not place inside the body. I am hopeful this will leave an impression and keep people for doing it anymore!
I put petroleum jelly around my nose to heal dryness but not inside. The feeling of the squishy goo is just too much for me, not to mention the potential health risks!
When you have bad allergies and sinus problems, the nose gets dry so that is when the squishy goo feels like heaven. Most people never need it but I hope this is a good reference for those that do!
Oh God this is indeed scary. Never knew about this. And as you said, the first thing I do is apply vaseline.Its true as a parent I need to be informed about this and avoid this practice.
You are not alone! Most people reach for vaseline but I just recommend having an antibiotic ointment at home in case the need arises for its use.
I didn’t even know people did this! I am VERY impressed by all the information you provided. You clearly know what you are talking about! Thank you for sharing your knowledge!
Hopefully, you will never need any of these treatments. But when the need arises, I want people to reach for something besides the vaseline
Oh my goodness Dr. B. My 5 yr old son has been having nosebleeds. Just last week someone recommended me to start putting a little Vaseline on the inside of his nose. I didn’t do it but was trying out a saline spray first, but was considering it if the nosebleeds started again. Thank you for preventing that from happening!!!! This post has been amazing information for me! Beth, http://www.wisemommies.com
When nosebleeds happen, the goal is to get them stopped and to prevent more. Saline is one of my favorite nasal treatments, but get some Saline gel or antibiotic ointment to have at home in case the nose gets dry. And be sure to check out my post on nosebleed causes in kids! ( https://www.drmommasays.com/healthcare/nose/12-causes-childhood-nasty-nosebleeds/ ) Finding and treating the cause is the best treatment!
I never knew! I’ve used vaseline on the outside (never on the inside), but good to know for the future. Thank you for sharing!
Yes, Vaseline seems to be present in almost all of our homes. It is fabulous when used outside of the body but I am happy to hear you never put it inside of your nose.
This is good to know. I’ve just put some Vaseline in my nose after hearing it’s good on nose scabs. Only used once so hopefully be okay. Won’t use again.
I’ve been putting Vaseline in my nose for years, and I never knew this! Are there any sighns I should look for to see if I have this?! If I stop now will the pneumonia develop?
Thanks for the article. I have had repeated nose bleeds everyday, and can’t get them to stop for about 30 minutes. I know my nose is extremely dry, and feels so, and you are right, Vaseline feels like heaven in my very dry nose. I appreciate the knowledge on petroleum jelly and will continue with the saline.
Not sure what else more to do. We have a whole house humidifier, and one in our bedroom as well, and I am using saline, and I drink a ton of water. Still very dry.
Dr. B I have been using Vaseline inside my nose for over 20 years no sides effects yet. Should I talk to my primary doctor to start some test especially checking my lungs
No need to check if you have no symptoms. Many people may have recurrent respiratory problems and did not consider this as a potential cause. Most people will never have problems but the risk is real. Perhaps going forward, you might consider saline gel as a means of moisturizing your nose.
Dr. B, it appears that vaseline has collected in my son’s lungs. What are ways to get it out? His dad has been putting alot of vaseline on my son’s lips for 2 months and he swallows when he eats. now symptoms are present. He has an occasional bronchial cough that sounds bad. Sore swollen throat in the mornings and just had flu symptoms.
Oh goodness. There are many possible reasons for your child’s symptoms, so I recommend seeing his primary care physician as soon as possible. Because the symptoms are new, they may simply provide some medications before proceeding with any other tests. Vaseline in the lungs is usually something that happens after long term use or huge amounts are inhaled, so hopefully, this is not your case.
Wow I did not know this :/ I use Vaseline on my face overnight would this cause any problems with my lungs as it obviously gets on my pillow slip a bit ?
The skin is the perfect place for Vaseline! Near nose and mouth is fine, but many people put it directly inside the nose where it melts and drips down the back of the throat. Thanks for reading and commenting on this post. So happy to continue educating people.
Would coconut oil cause the same problem? My son got a few bloody noses this past week, probably from dry air. I read the about using Vaseline but wanted it to be more natural so used melted coconut oil on a cute tip a few times in his nose. Of course after I read this, it freaked me out. Is this something that happens from using over a prolonged period of time? Will it harm my 3 yr old from using it probably 3 times that day? Makes me nervous now.
Natural coconut oil can be dissolved by the body so it is a much better choice than Vaseline. Using it on a Qtip is also a good technique so the nose is not filled with the oil. When there is a problem, it is fine to treat the nose several times each day for a short period of time, but if you find you need to do it frequently, you might want to see your child’s physician to determine how you can prevent the nosebleeds.
Thank you so thank you so much for sharing this information I was not aware this. Vaseline is very common to use for dry skin and moisturizing . Vaseline has been a staple in my families homes for Generations but to learn of these dangers for young children is definitely an eye-opener I will share this information with my family. Thank you
Yes, Vaseline is outstanding to use for skin issues, but it is extremely common to use in the nose. Even though the instructions warn us to not put it inside of the body. There are different ointments, such as saltwater or saline gels that can help moisturize the nose without the Xray risk associated with frequent Vaseline use. Thanks so much for your comment.
since you mentioned not to put vaseline in your nose…. i ask : can you put castor oil up your nose?
If done regularly, it is best to put any oils in the nose since they will still go into the back of the throat and potentially get inhaled into the lungs. There are products on the market such as saline gels that are better and safer.
BS. The veins in my nose are very close to the surface and every winter of my life I get nose bleeds from the furnace. Terrible nose bleeds. Many doctors told me as a child to put vaseline or neosporin in my nose with a q-tip to keep my nose moist. In the past years I have added a Neti pot and then a Navage to replace the annoying neti pot. You only mention an extremely minimal risk if done at bedtime. I doubt that, but then doing it in the morning or other times of the day would be no risk at all.
Your comment is complicated because Vaseline and Neosporin are too different things. Vaseline is an oil-based product that does not dissolve. Whether used at night or during the day, if it collects in the nose and will drain into the back of the throat. It can then be swallowed or small pieces get into the lungs. Yes, the risk may be considered low but that is where lipoid pneumonia starts. It is not just vaseline that can lead to this and I added links to other oils that collect over time in the lungs as well. It is fine for everyone to take risks, since our world is always about assessing the risks vs the benefits. I am educating people about a risk they may be taking but not aware of. It could be very easy to switch to Neosporin or AYR saline gel. Knowledge is power. You should use your knowledge to make informed decisions.
I am so glad I found your advice here. I was told by an ENT doctor to put Vaseline in my nose after bad nosebleeds. Then I developed a horrible cough – particularly at night – which my GP could find no reason for. After reading your article I switched to using Ayr, which I’d never heard of (very pricey over here in UK but worth every penny) – result: cough disappeared and breathing much better at night. Thank you so much!
That is wonderful to hear! Most people do not have such dramatic symptoms but they usually happen slowly over time. Now you should focus on why you have nosebleeds by seeing an allergist and making sure you control whatever is irritating the tissues in your nose.
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Thanks so much. Very happy you found it useful.