Can You Put Vaseline in Your Nose?

By Irmanie Hemphill, MD, FAAFP
Medically reviewed
November 2, 2021

Most of us, at one time or another, have experienced a dry nose.

Whether yours has been brought on by harsh weather, seasonal allergies, or a lingering cold, it’s typically nothing to be concerned about.

That said, there’s no denying it can be sore and unpleasant. For some, a dry nose will even trigger nosebleeds

In the past, it was common practice to dab Vaseline inside the nose to make it less dry.

Nowadays, however, doctors generally advise against this.

Read on to learn more about Vaseline, why you shouldn’t put it inside your nose, alternate treatments for a dry nose and, finally, when to see a doctor.

What is Vaseline? 

Vaseline is the name of a well-known brand of petroleum jelly.

Invented over 140 years ago, it was originally intended as a burns ointment for oil workers but has since become a staple in medicine cabinets and makeup bags alike.

Vaseline’s main ingredient is refined petroleum jelly, which is a blend of mineral oils and wax, and it has a thick, almost grease-like consistency.

Its water-sealing properties make it a popular and protective form of skincare.

Common Uses 

Vaseline is an extremely versatile product and can be used for a host of health, beauty, and DIY purposes.

When it comes to health care, it is commonly used to treat and prevent the following: 

  • Rough, dry skin: As an oil-based emollient, Vaseline locks in your skin’s natural oils and seals the skin with a protective barrier. So, whether a dry climate or chemical-laden skincare products are to blame for stripping your skin of its moisture, Vaseline can safeguard against further dryness. In fact, it’s even recognized by the National Eczema Association as a suitable remedy for those with eczema.
  • Diaper rash: Diapers can chafe, rub, and itch a baby’s skin, causing a red rash to appear across their inner thighs and bottom. Vaseline has been proven to provide a protective film against diaper wetness, thus helping to soothe existing rashes and preventing new ones from forming. It’s also a hypoallergenic and non-irritating product, making it well suited to a baby’s delicate skin.

Can You Put Vaseline in Your Nose? 

As seen above, there are multiple safe uses for Vaseline; however, treating the inside of your nose is not one of them.

Whilst Vaseline is safe for external use, applying it to the inner part of your nose can be problematic.

Discover why it can be unsafe to put Vaseline inside your nostrils and alternate ways to treat a dry nose below.

Risks of Putting Vaseline Up Your Nose 

Long-term and repeated use of Vaseline in the nose can, in rare circumstances, cause a severe lung problem known as exogenous lipoid pneumonia.

This happens when oily substances, such as Vaseline, are aspirated or inhaled over many months, leading to inflammation in the lungs.

Symptoms do not always present themselves but some people experience a cough, chest pain, and shortness of breath.

In severe cases, it can even be life-threatening.

Realistically though, an occasional dab of Vaseline inside your nose is unlikely to be harmful.

Usually, it will simply drain down the back of the nose and be swallowed along with other nasal secretions.

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Alternate Treatments for Dry Nose 

Hydration and lubrication are key to combating a dry nose.

Rather than using Vaseline, why not try these alternative treatments? 

  • Saline nasal spray: This can make your nasal passages wet and remove any potential irritants such as dust, dirt, and pollen. It contains no medicine, just a small amount of salt and sterilized water, and is available over-the-counter. Use it as often as you need, as there’s no danger of overdoing it.
  • Humidifiers: These work by adding moisture into the air. Sleep with one next to your bed (ideally a cool-mist humidifier) to help keep your mucous membranes moist. The fresh air will also soothe and reduce any inflammation inside your nose.
  • Drink water: To maintain adequate nasal moisture, it’s important to keep hydrated throughout the day by drinking plenty of fluids. If you’re dehydrated, it will be difficult for your nose to carry out its function of moistening the incoming air, resulting in a dry nose.

When to See a Doctor 

Aside from some mild discomfort, a dry nose is rarely serious and should improve with the treatments listed above.

However, a chronic dry nose accompanied by dry eyes, tiredness, and muscle or joint pain could be a sign of an autoimmune condition called Sjögren’s Syndrome.

If these symptoms sound familiar, you should call your doctor or health care provider.

How K Health Can Help 

A dry nose is seldom a cause for concern but if it persists, and you have other symptoms, it’s worth getting it checked out.

Did you know you can get affordable primary care with the K Health app?

Download K Health to check your symptoms, explore conditions and treatments, and if needed text with a doctor in minutes. K Health’s AI-powered app is HIPAA compliant and based on 20 years of clinical data.

Frequently Asked Questions

What's the best way to moisturize your nostrils?
An over-the-counter saline nasal spray, available at most grocery stores or pharmacies, is the best way to moisturize your nostrils and prevent a dry nose.
Will putting Vaseline up your nose prevent nosebleeds?
When your nasal passages dry out you become more susceptible to nosebleeds. Whilst Vaseline can help with this, it’s best to use a saline nasal spray. Long-term use of Vaseline in the nose can, in exceptional circumstances, be life-threatening.
Can you put lotion in your nose?
Saline or water-based lotions, creams, or gels are safe to use in your nose. Avoid using oil-based emollients, however, such as Vaseline, as repeated use can pose a potential health risk.
K Health articles are all written and reviewed by MDs, PhDs, NPs, or PharmDs and are for informational purposes only. This information does not constitute and should not be relied on for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.

Irmanie Hemphill, MD, FAAFP

Dr. Hemphill is an award winning primary care physician with an MD from Florida State University College of Medicine. She completed her residency at Halifax Medical Center.