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An Unexpected Way to Moisten Dry Nostrils

It can be dangerous to use petroleum jelly to ease dry nostrils. Instead, some people turn to a water-based personal lubricant, K-Y Jelly.
An Unexpected Way to Moisten Dry Nostrils
Close up shot of a human nose

As the weather begins to turn from summer into fall, people may find that they have to start dealing with cool-season complaints. One of these is dry nostrils. We have frightened many people by warning them not to use any products with a petrolatum base in their nose for moisturizing. The short-term relief such a product might offer could be offset by serious complications later. How can you moisturize your dry nose safely?

Taking Care of Dry Nostrils:

We heard from one reader with a lot of experience utilizing an alternative approach:

Q. I have used K-Y Jelly to moisturize my nose for years. I recently saw a question about using petroleum jelly, which is not safe for your lungs.

K-Y works great. It is water soluble and a life saver if you suffer from dry nose. I just apply with a cotton swab and get instant relief.

A. K-Y Jelly is water-based, so it should be safer than petrolatum products. A saline gel may also be a safe, effective nasal moisturizer.

Health Care Providers Recommending K-Y Jelly for Dry Nostrils:

Q. You have had some people ask questions about dry nostrils and nasal passages. My father used oxygen for his congestive heart failure and as a result he too struggled with dry nostrils.

His hospice nurse had me use K-Y Jelly in his nose because it is water soluble. She told me Vaseline could be inhaled into his lungs and get stuck there with no way to dissolve. Your readers might have an easier time finding K-Y Jelly than the Ayr Saline Nasal Gel you previously suggested.

A. Although many people have written to tell us that they use petroleum jelly in their dry noses, pulmonologists discourage such oil-based lubricants. K-Y Jelly is water-based, as you noted, and should not pose the same hazard.

You are not the first one to find this product helpful for dry nostrils. Several years ago, we heard from another reader who made the same suggestion.

Personal Lubricant for Dry Nasal Passages:

Q. Some people have written about dryness in the nose. I work for a man on oxygen all the time. His doctor said we could use K-Y Jelly to help keep his nose moist.

A. Thanks for the tip. We have often warned against the popular practice of putting Vaseline Petroleum Jelly or Vicks VapoRub in the nose. We worry that the petrolatum could be inhaled and cause lung irritation called lipoid pneumonia. The lungs have no good way to remove petroleum based products.

We heard this from one person:

“I went to the hospital for an unrelated problem that prompted an X-ray and CT scan. The doctors found five nodules in my lungs.

“I met with a pulmonologist to discuss this. After I mentioned that I put Vicks in my nostrils every night, as I have for 10 years, and he looked at my CT scan, he diagnosed me with lipoid pneumonia. I am 41 and in very good health, so this was quite a surprise. I thought it was important to share.”

K-Y Jelly is a personal lubricant that is not petroleum based. As a result, it should not pose the danger that petroleum jelly does when it comes to treating dry nostrils. Others have suggested saline nasal sprays or a neti pot with a sterile saline solution to wash out the nasal passages and ease dryness.

We also received this suggestion from a flight attendant:

“I’m responding to the issue of using Vicks VapoRub or Mentholatum to keep the inside of the nose lubricated. I’m a flight attendant who flies long international flights (often 10 hours or more). Given the lack of humidity on the airplane, my nose was often uncomfortably dry, sometimes bleeding slightly.

“An Ear, Nose and Throat specialist recommended a product designed to be used inside the nose, without the petrolatum base of Vicks or Mentholatum. I have found two: ‘Nose Better’ and ‘Ayr Gel.’

“These are not saline spray products (which seem to work well, but evaporate quickly), but gel that stays inside the nose and helps maintain appropriate moisture. They are both over-the-counter products, but often not regularly stocked. I’ve had good luck at many pharmacies just asking them to order the product for me. It makes a huge difference in my poor nose’s ability to tolerate the dryness of the airplane.”

What About Your Dry Lips?

In a month or so, the weather will turn cold and your lips will start drying out. What do you use to deal with chapped lips? We know there are lots of lip balms on the market, but we would love to offer you a special opportunity to try one of our unique Natural Lip Care tubes at a reduced price.

One of the country’s leading natural product chemists (Chuck) developed three unique lip balms just for fans of The People’s Pharmacy. They are:

Pomegranate Natural Lip Care

Berry Natural Lip Care

Here’s a review from Susan in North Carolina:

“I am one of those people who has been addicted to lip balm for many, many years. About 5 years ago I developed allergic reactions to any lip balm, even the “all natural” ones and I have tried many!

“I have been using the People’s Pharmacy Pomegranate lip balm for at least 3 years now without any allergic reactions on my lips. It’s been such a relief to have found a lip balm that I can safely use. Thank you!!!”

So…What’s the Special Offer?

To introduce you to our Natural Lip Care products we are offering you a special discount of 20% on all flavors. The Discount Code is:

LovelyLips2020

Why not stock up for the cold weather that is just around the corner? And hey, we’ll bet you have a friend or family member who could benefit from our LovelyLips20 sale. A safe bet is Pomegranate Natural Lip Care. It is a perennial favorite. This sale will expire on September 18, 2020.

Don’t forget to put LovelyLips2020 into the box that says Gift card or discount code and click the “Apply” button. Thank you for supporting The People’s Pharmacy. You may want to shop for other body care products at this link. Sorry, the 20% discount only applies to natural lip care products.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
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