Why Not To Use Petroleum Jelly (Vaseline) With CPAP, BiPAP + Ventilator Masks

January 21st, 2013 by Kath

Cream + Vaseline

Just a short, but very important, article today on why we have to be careful what we use with our CPAP/BiPAP and Ventilation Therapy.

Firstly, I have to say how many positive uses petroleum jelly has, and we always have a tub of Vaseline in the cupboard for all the fantastic health and household remedies it is useful for.  HOWEVER, we must make sure that we keep it away from our precious and expensive CPAP, BiPAP + Ventilator Masks, and it MUST NEVER be used with oxygen.  Always check the ingredients of any cream, lotion or wipes you use that they don’t contain petroleum jelly, mineral oil, paraffin or alcohol.  I sent a warning out to my monthly newsletter readers (you are welcome to sign up for these on the right-hand side at the Newsletter Sign-up Form) and am repeating myself here as a warning to others:-


I was recently horrified to be told by a customer that her clinician had told her to use Vaseline to help with skin soreness, as although there was a risk in damaging the mask, he told the customer it could be replaced.  (I have since heard of several similar stories from customers).  Apart from the fact that I consider this to be irresponsible advice for our cash-strapped NHS and to those of us who purchase our own masks, please be aware that this is not the only reason for not using any cream and lotion which contain petroleum jelly, paraffin or mineral oil.  Lawrence E. Gibson, M.D., Dermatologist at The Mayo Clinic put out a warning a while ago about the risk of inhaling products like Vaseline as it can cause an accumulation of the jelly or oils into the lungs, leading to potentially serious inflammation such as Lipoid Pneumonia.  You can read the full article on their site here….. Petroleum Jelly – Mayo Clinic.  Bearing in mind we have pressurised air blown into us all night, I would guess the risk would be greater.  This is why we stock the CPAP/BiPAP Therapy Cream which is safe for our masks and safe for us!  Also, check the label of Vicks Vapo Rub, and you’ll see a warning not to place Vicks into the nostrils.  The directions are to rub the ointment onto the chest, throat and back, or to follow their instructions for inhalation with hot water.CPAP Moisture Therapy Cream

It goes without saying that petroleum jelly MUST NOT EVER BE USED WITH OXYGEN THERAPY, as it could make the oxygen flammable as well as blocking the oxygen port.  The CPAP Therapy Cream (which consists of  Aloe Vera, Emu Oil and Vitamins A & E) is suitable for oxygen users too, as I checked this out with the manufacturer before we started supplying it.  If you are using the nasal pillows-type of masks, the cream can be inserted into the nostrils first, but also bear in mind that if you suffer from dry nasal passages and/or dry mouth and throat then a CPAP/BiPAP/Ventilator Humidifier will certainly help with this.  (You may fall prey to ‘rainout’ from the humidier, which is when water leaks into the mask, but there are easy remedies for this – the Hose Covers and the Hose Lift.  Oh, and remember, the hose should always be elevated with humidification, which the Hose Lift definitely helps with).  The cream helps protect the skin with the mask on, but can also be used during the day to clear up any sore areas.   Another bonus is that just a few weeks ago I had a bad sore on my wrist (my fault through keeping my wrist watch on in the shower).  I used the cream several times during the day, and the following morning the weeping sore had dried up, and consequently healed.  Perhaps the manufacturer should consider marketing it for other benefits!

Hope you’ve found this article helpful and please share it with other CPAP/BiPAP, Ventilator + Oxygen Users.

Best Wishes and Good Safe Sleep!


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27 Responses to “Why Not To Use Petroleum Jelly (Vaseline) With CPAP, BiPAP + Ventilator Masks”

  1. Snoryhead says:

    I can not sing the praises too highly of the CPAP/BiPAP Therapy Cream. I was suffering with a sore face where the mask straps touched my face and some leakage around the nose on my pillow mask. I now use the cream on a daily basis and no longer suffer from facial soreness, and also found it assists in the sealing of the mask to reduce air leaks.

    On seeing the size of the tube my concern was the how long it would last, and this would consequently be expensive therapy. Even using it daily on both cheeks, nose and forehead, I find that as only a very small quantity of the cream is required to be effective the tube lasts many weeks.

    I would add I am in no way related to Kath and neither been encouraged to write this review, just an avid supporter of the product and wish to help those who may be suffering and have reservations.

    I don’t know why clinics are not recommending it or they may not be aware of its existence.

    • Kath says:

      Thanks for your comments Snoryhead, which I hope will help others. When writing this blog I was amazed to read the label on the Vicks VapoRub that it shouldn’t be put inside the nostrils, which is exactly where I’d been putting it in the past. You learn something new everyday 🙂

  2. Another thing to keep in mind if you are on oxygen therapy – Oxygen and petroleum-based products can react together and form a very caustic chemical that will burn the skin.
    A senior lung consultant reported, to the Breathe-Easy group that I attend, that some hospital hand-gels and hand-sanitisers contain petroleum-based chemicals, and he has had to ensure that alternative products are used in his unit.

  3. Liz says:

    Can you please tell me if the use of night creams as part of general skin care regime should be stopped? I’m not using cream to stop leaks or facial soreness. If I made sure it didn’t contain petroleum bi-products then is this ok? Is something like Liz Earle natural products ok to use?

    • Kath says:

      Liz, I just had a quick look on Liz Earle’s website at one of the moisturisers and here’s a list of ingredients:-
      Aqua (water), Vaccinium macrocarpon (cranberry) seed oil, Glycerin, Ethylhexyl stearate, Rosa rubiginosa (rosehip) seed oil, Dicaprylyl carbonate, Tocopherol (vitamin E), Borago officinalis (borage) seed oil, Cetearyl alcohol, Vitellaria paradoxa (shea butter), Glyceryl stearate, Pentaerythrityl distearate, Punica granatum (pomegranate) fruit extract, Xanthan gum, Sodium stearoyl glutamate, Sodium polyacrylate, Phenoxyethanol, Benzoic acid, Dehydroacetic acid, Ethylhexylglycerin, Polyaminopropyl biguanide.
      It was the ‘alcohol’ that I immediately spotted, and am not sure what all the other additives are, but it’s basically alcohol, mineral oil + petroleum jelly we need to stay away from. I tend to use the CPAP Cream on a night and my normal products during the day. Oh, and I’m also careful what I clean my face with on a night before putting on the mask.
      Hope this helps!

      • 99 says:

        the secret with all msoisturisers his to apply as thin as possible as the skin needs to breath

        also drink plenty of water to keep yourself hydrated, do this gradually so your body will adjust

  4. I havent got oxygen in my nippy atall and have never used vaseline or any sort of petroleum jelly. I use sudacream but it is so messy but the mask causes skin burns what is the name of a good product to use as a barrier please?

    • Kath says:

      Unfortunately, whilst Sudocrem is a marvellous healing cream, it shouldn’t be used with the masks Patricia as it contains oil and alcohol. Also, due to its thick consistency traces of it could be left behind on the mask, which will cause problems too. The best cream to try is the CPAP/BiPAP Therapy Cream which most people find helps, and is safe for the masks and safe for us!

      • 99 says:

        vasiline and oxygen donot mix
        vasiline under pressure can act like a bullet f ancy being shot with a valiline bullet can be fatal

  5. Beth Leatherman says:

    A friend suggested Lemongrass Spa facial products (http://lemongrassspa.com/). I see oils of flowers and the like but no alcohol, petro, or mineral oil. Are these products safe for my silicone mask? THANK YOU!

    • Kath says:

      Sorry for the delay Beth, but I’ve had time to have a look at the Lemongrass facial products. I found Emulsifying Wax was one of the ingredients, and have taken the following from Wikopedia

      “The ingredients for Emulsifying Wax NF are: Cetearyl Alcohol, Polysorbate 60, PEG-150 Stearate, and Steareth-20. It has the characteristics of cetyl alcohol combined with the viscosity building effect of stearyl alcohol as an effective thickener and helps form stable emulsions.”

      I personally would stay away from the products with your mask, but obviously daytime use of them would be fine – just not anywhere that has contact with the mask.

      I only ever use the CPAP cream as it won’t damage the mask and is safe if inhaled (of which there’s a high chance we inhale products due to the CPAP air). Some people do use KY Jelly which doesn’t damage the masks, although it doesn’t contain the healing benefits of the CPAP cream for those with sore skin.

      Hope this helps!

      • Beth Leatherman says:

        Thank you, Kath! My friends keep touting “natural” and “organic” as their answers. They just don’t understand that those can be harmful too!

        • Kath says:

          You’re right there Beth and it’s always a surprise how these ‘natural’ + ‘organic’ products still have added ingredients and often in disguise. Baby wipes are a prime example which shouldn’t be used to clean the masks. Most of them contain added moisturisers + some even alcohol. The added moisturisers leave behind a residue on the mask cushion which cause leaks. The wipes that say they don’t contain any additives are simply 99% water so not powerful enough to removal our facial oils from the mask. That’s why I stick to CPAP wipes, as well as the fact it takes me 30 seconds to clean it each morning, as I’m all for an easy life 😀

          • Beth Leatherman says:

            Surprisingly, my CPAP provider did not tell me not to use facial products. And they say I can just use a warm, wet cloth to clean the mask. I think I’ll start using the CPAP wipes I was saving for travel. I thought I was being frivolous to use them instead of a washcloth!

            I had difficulties last night getting the mask to not leak and then to stay in place. I think it might be due to using a different face wash than I normally do. I’m having a terrible time finding the right mask.

  6. Kath says:

    Hope you see this Beth as it wouldn’t let me reply anymore in the original thread we were on. I don’t believe a warm wet cloth is enough to remove and thoroughly clean any facial oils left or saliva etc left behind on the mask. To help with costs you could cut the CPAP wipes in half as they’re ample big enough. I tend to use the remainder on cleaning my bathroom sink, which is the only sink in the house that sparkles permanently 😀 If you give your mask a really good rub with the CPAP wipe you may find that’s enough to help the mask seal better.

    It’s certainly challenging for some people to find the ‘right’ mask for them and what works for one person doesn’t always work for another. I had the same problem myself! If you’ve not seen the other blog on choosing masks have a read of it http://www.sleepapnoeablog.com/choosing-a-cpap-bipap-masks-for-sleep-apnoea/ although do bear in mind there are new masks since I wrote it (I really must try to make time to update it).

  7. Beth Leatherman says:

    Kath, I got your email. I really appreciate your help. There are lots of folks on CPAP but not many whom I know with the answers I seek! And everyone thinks his solution will work for everyone else!

    • Kath says:

      You’re welcome Beth, and with CPAP it’s definitely not a case of a one fix for us all. It would be easy if it was and this is why when a person raves about the best mask ever I always cringe, because it doesn’t mean it will suit others!

  8. Beth Leatherman says:

    Kath, I got your email and now see it’s a new post! I wondered how you did that! I really appreciate your help. There are lots of folks on CPAP but not many whom I know with the answers I seek! And everyone thinks his solution will work for everyone else!

    BTW, are other oils okay for the silicone? I’m wondering about things like coconut oil and shea butter. I was thinking of using those then realized it would probably make my mask leak. Still curious though.

    • Kath says:

      I’m not really sure about coconut oil as the Citrus II CPAP Wipes I use do contain some coconut, but I’m guessing that the citrus ingredient is what gives the mask such a good clean (bearing in mind several household cleaners contain citrus). Before we started to stock the CPAP Wipes I personally tested every available CPAP wipe and found those to be the best. I have known several people try other brands and be disappointed too. I wouldn’t know about shea butter, but tend to stick with the wipes I love and the CPAP Moisture Cream which have both been around for years and have proven their success.

  9. baking mat says:

    Everything is very open with a very clear explanation of the issues.
    It was really informative. Your site is extremely helpful.
    Thank you for sharing!

  10. Mallen says:

    What about coconut oil? I use it as a facial moisturizer before bed.

    • Kath says:

      Sorry I missed this comment Mallen. Coconut oil is a favourite of mine for many uses, even for my dogs. I love it as a moisturiser and doubt it would harm the masks, but I’d just be concerned it may cause the mask seal to slip due to it’s consistency, but I could be wrong. If it does, then you could use a Silent Night Mask Liner which actually stick to the masks. We have them on the website http://www.hope2sleep.co.uk/products/134 but if you’re in the USA you can get them easily over there. Many people like the liners so they can continue with their usual night creams.

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