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.