Q. I read in your column that putting petroleum jelly in the nose could cause chemical pneumonia. I have been putting Vaseline in my nose every day for years to prevent nosebleeds.

Now I'm worried. I do have a chronic cough that I always attributed to allergies.

A. Petroleum jelly is “for external use only,” according to the label. The makers of Vicks VapoRub go so far as to say, “Do not use in nostrils.”

We found one case in the medical literature of “exogenous lipoid pneumonia” caused by habitually putting petroleum jelly in the nose (Chest, March, 1994). Although this condition is considered rare, we would encourage you to stop this practice and discuss your chronic cough with a lung expert.

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  1. Anonymous

    Please look up HHT. It stands for Hereditary hemorragic telangictasia, also called Osler Weber Rendu syndrome. Please read the web site HHT.org
    Get your pulse ox checked (easy). I realize you wrote long ago but I was searching for help with my nosebleeds and came across your message here.

  2. LB

    My mother-in-law, aged 76 & bedridden in a nursing home; has a cleft palate & has been putting Vick’s up in her nostrils for I don’t know how long. She has been taken to the hospital from the nursing home twice in less than a week for excessive nose bleeding & coughing up blood. The first time they cauterized her nose & took a chest x-ray (clear). Last night was far worse, a lot of blood, and they packed one nostril twice (because it got so soaked with blood), and it’s to stay for a few days; then a doctor must remove it. I’ve read here today how that can be dangerous, for many reasons; but she’s very stubborn & won’t believe it. Does the cleft palate have a role in this? She literally thinks she’s dying, but doesn’t believe it’s the Vick’s up the nostril cause!
    Any explanation would be greatly appreciated! Thank you in advance!

  3. idk

    ppl it does say that it is rare …

  4. tata

    I started to have nose bleeds lately, to times a day on my second day it went even farther lots of blood, and when my nose would stop bleeding I would throw some throw my mouth I got so concerned that I went to a clinic but all the “doctor” told me to put some Vaseline for three days to see if it stops, I followed directions so far when my nose was becoming dry I realized that I was about to bleed again so I ran and put some more Vaseline & it worked the Vaseline stops it but is it bad? I just read this that it’s bad for your lings and I’m really scared now what can I affectly use to help me safely cure my problem :/

  5. kmd

    I was just thinking that maybe petroleum jelly in my nose would catch the allergens to prevent me from having an allergy attack. I don’t have nose bleeds. The only relief I get from an allergy attack is rolling toilet paper and putting it up my nose while I take a nap. I had to do that today. After reading this I don’t think I’m going to try it.

  6. JS

    I’ve found vitamin E oil to be more effective for my chronic dryness and nosebleeds than petroleum jelly. When I’m really on top of things, I spray saline in my nose to reduce inflammation, and then about 10 minutes later, snip open a 400 IU vitamin E capsule and swab it in my nose with a Q-tip. Most effective remedy I’ve found so far.

  7. H. L.

    For nosebleeds, try chewing gum. I don’t know exactly what chewing gum does, but it does stop the nosebleeds.

  8. S.T.

    My sister has had nosebleeds ever since, I’d say last summer. At first, we thought it was OK, but as the months and days passed my parents have been getting more and more worried of the amount of blood that come out. We use some ice, but anything else? My dad puts some AYR gel with a Q-tip into her nose almost every morning, but that doesn’t seem to be working. I took some notes on the websites, but no one seems to listen to me. I have checked some other websites, they say, “Put some ice, the jelly thing” and all that. Does a nose bleed expert have any advice for us??????????

  9. H. L.

    I’ve been using petroleum jelly in my nose during the day and also just before bed for the past couple of years. About 4-6 months ago I started to develop a really persistent non-productive cough. Had read about this p.j. causing pneumonia thing, but didn’t think that it would happen to me. Well there you go… Probably time to stop, I guess. :\ .

  10. Jo Ellen

    Does the use of mineral oil and or products with glycerin (like Zicam) applied to the interior of the nose cause the risk of chemical pneumonia, as does petroleum jelly?

  11. FJR

    I have had intermittent nosebleeds for years. Lately I have been using AYR saline nasal spray, and AYR saline nasal gel (applied with Q-tip), and haven’t had any nosebleeds for about 2 months now. I do this 3 times a day. Hope this has been helpful.

  12. WS

    I have had nosebleeds several times a week since I was a kid. Going on 24 y/o now, and still havn’t found a real cure. I have been putting Vaseline up my nose for years, no joy. It does make it easier to stop the bleeding, though. I have had it coterized dozens of times. I guess I will have this plague forever. Can anyone help me???

  13. T.S.

    About 5 years ago I went to an allergist for chronic stuffy nose & nose bleeds. The Dr. recommended Claritan D for the stuffy nose & putting petroleum jelly in the nose for the nose bleeds. I have to say that the Claritan works about 75% of the time. I’ve put the petroleum jelly in my nose every day since his recommenation & have had not one nose bleed & have noticed no side effects.

  14. JoAnn

    Years ago I had an area in my nose that would bleed and heal and bleed again. The biopsy showed no cancer and the Dr. told me when the area was irritated to put a little neosporin on a q-tip and put the medicine in my nostril. That does help it temporarily.

  15. Marion

    Just recently, I have been having nose bleeds and the doctor told me to use Vaseline in my nose. Thus far, it has worked. I don’t have a cough yet and pray I don’t get one. She also told me if I get a nose bleed to spray Afrin in the nostril. That also works.

  16. VN

    My doctor told me to use KY Jelly, and it works great for nose bleeds. I used to use Vicks for a stuffy nose, and it helped; now I just put it under my nostrils.

  17. JPM

    I have used Preparation H for years to stop my dry nose from bleeding, and it works great.

  18. Cathy Wolf

    So what do you suggest instead of Vaseline in your nose to help prevent bloody noses OR to heal a sore nose?

  19. Odette Lenz

    I have used Vicks in my nose, and even as a child in my mouth, on my chest, feet, forehead, and throat… works for me and my sister… since we were tots. We are now in the winter of our years… still use in nose…
    also use Vaseline in nose for bleeding as the pharmacist told me it is OK..
    Odette Lenz

  20. Tom March

    Concerning putting Vicks VapoRub up your nostrils: I am 61 years old and have been putting Vicks up my nostrils since before high school and have not noticed any side effects other than it clears my stuffed head. Why are we not to be doing this?

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