Tuesday, November 5, 2013

SSF: Saline Better Than Vaseline for Dry Nasal Passages

Brrr. It's cold outside. Must mean that winter is on it's way. I thought this tidbit from the Sjogren's Syndrome Foundation blog was timely and interesting:

 With winter weather exacerbating many Sjögren’s symptoms, including nasal dryness, the Sjögren’s Syndrome Foundation has been receiving a lot of questions about the use of Vaseline to relieve the pain associated with dryness of the nose and sinuses. 

Below is a Question & Answer on this topic and how inhaling Vaseline, when used to sooth nasal dryness, can affect the lungs. This was taken from a past SSF National Patient Conference talk "Lung Complications & Sjögren’s," by Richard Meehan, MD, FACP, FACR.

Q. I’ve been putting Vaseline inside my nose. I’ve read recently that the grease can get in your lungs and cause a special type of pneumonia. So, is this something that you shouldn’t put in your nose?

A. Well, our ENT physicians don’t like Vaseline. They recommend that people frequent the use of nasal spray, that puts the normal saline back in the nostril. Some of them like to use a little bit of olive oil, but generally it's thought that Vaseline is toxic to the lungs if you inhale it.

- Dr. Meehan

Dr. Meehan's ENT physicians don't like Vaseline because if accidentally inhaled it can cause a specific type of pneumonia called 'lipoid pneumonia'. You can read more about the nasty effects of this type of lung disease here.

Fig. 3B —Chronic exogenous lipoid pneumonia in 63-year-old woman due to chronic aspiration of Vaseline (Unilever) petroleum-based lubricant. CT image shows areas of fat attenuation within consolidation (arrows), finding diagnostic of lipoid pneumonia. Image found here

The NIH webpage for patients using oxygen therapy recommends the use of a water soluble lubricant such as K-Y jelly for dry nasal passages. Other water-based lubricants are available such as Ayr


Unknown said...

This is a dilemma for me. With the exception of biotene toothpaste, any water based products and therapies, including drinking water, make the areas of dryness in my body noticeably dryer, even though they accomplish other feats. I think they wash away the bad stuff but also the few good things, like mucin, etc. I can see why people are tempted to use something moisturizing when their noses, etc are so dried and cracked they bleed or have a perpetual dry cough. The real problem is there just aren't enough good products or well known remedies out there.

annie said...

I suffer from dry nasal passages and my allergist recommended I use
Secaris or Rhinaris gel. I'm not sure what components are in the ingredient list (can't remember!), but it does help somewhat.

Eleanor said...

I'm having a horrid time with overnight nasal dryness despite using humidified water in my Cflex. I've used saline rinses before bed and they help for a while but 4 hours in, I'm awake because my nasal linings are so dry it simply hurts to breathe through them. Since I can't exactly run aloe vera gel through my sinuses the way I do with my intestinal mucosa, I'm trying a week of Secaris nasal gel to see if that lets me get a full night's sleep.