Q. I get nosebleeds when the furnace runs a lot in the winter. I think it is the dry air.

My doctor recommended that I use Vaseline in my nose to keep it moistened. I think I read in your column that you should not put too much Vaseline in your nose because it could irritate the lungs. Is this really true?

A. We recently saw a suggestion in Consumer Reports (March, 2010) that “a pea-sized dollop of petroleum jelly inside the nostrils” could prevent nosebleeds. Used rarely, this approach might not be dangerous.

We have heard from lung specialists that petroleum jelly can migrate from the nose to the lungs. As it builds up, it could cause an inflammatory condition called lipoid pneumonia.

If you look at the label of Vicks VapoRub, a product containing petrolatum, it states clearly “Do not use in nostrils.” A water-soluble moistener such as K-Y Jelly might be a better choice.

We heard from another reader, “Please reprint the article about not using Vaseline in the nose because it can cause pneumonia. That article may have saved my life, and others need to know.”

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  1. gg

    I’m wondering if this is really true, my tube of neosporin says no where on it not to apply in the nostrils.
    It also has listed inactive ingredients: white petrolatum, and isn’t petrolatum what causes the pneumonia in the first place?
    I’ve used neosporin in my nose a few times when I get scabs or sores and I’ve had no problems yet
    but now I’m paranoid.

  2. Maureen

    I read somewhere that Sesame oil (not toasted) is really good for lubricating the nostrils….

  3. Anna

    I drink tons of water and still need chapstick. Some people just have dry sensitive skin no matter what. Hence the existence of moisturizers.

  4. BCS

    I’ve been using vaseline in my nose for years! What kind of damage have I done?!

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