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.
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
- Medicated nasal sprays, like AFRIN (which are addictive and should be avoided anyway)
- 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.
Treatments for dry nose that do not involve Vaseline in the nose
- Salt water nasal washes can work miracles to treat nasal problems. Details about the benefits of nasal saline can be found here.
- Facial humidier
- Salt water 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.
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