Kent L. Christopher, MD,RRT, FCCP,
I have questions about products
that can be used while using oxygen.
The sheet states "Never use petroleum based products (eg,
vicks, chapstick and creams or lotions, etc.) when
equipment. Use water based products on your face and
I understand about vaseline and chapstick but I don't
know which creams
or lotions should be avoided. For example, one ointment
cracked skin contains mineral oil, lanolin and several
ingredients. What about sunscreens and hand
Can users of these products suggest which ones they use
which to avoid?
It is nearly impossible to read the fine print (almost
looks like dots)
on most labels while standing in the store.
Reply: Remember that
chronic use of petroleum products such as Vaseline in
the nose can cause lipoid pneumonia documented by lipoid
bodies within WBCs.
A negative bench test with O2
should not encourage use by LTOT patients, as there are
other health risks. There is an abundance of readily
available petroleum-free products, and that should be
the message to patients with dry nasal vestibules from
LTOT use, particularly with high flows and/or dry
Now do non-petroleum products
make a clinically significant difference in objective or
subjective findings in patients, particularly with high
flows and/or dry climates? That is another question.
Caution to Oxygen Users
Feb 5, 08
Earlier today, I
noticed a couple postings at
COPD-ALERT about using hand sanitizers. I would like
to offer a respectful reminder to oxygen users regarding
the use of products which could be flammable in close
proximity to oxygen equipment. My comments are not
specific to any specific brand or type of product - this
applies to anything that fits the general description of
Please don't be overly alarmed by my comments - I am
merely suggesting prudent precautions to avoid the
hazardous effects of placing your oxygen too close to
flammable or combustible materials.
It is also good to remember that oxygen by itself is NOT
flammable. But if you place combustible materials in an
environment that is oxygen-enriched, the potential for
fire is greatly enhanced.
For example, one commonly used hand sanitizer is 62%
ethyl alcohol. A bottle of this product contains a
WARNING that it is flammable and should be kept away
from fire. If you use such a flammable product around
oxygen (or oxygen equipment) one needs to be aware of a
significantly increased risk of fire. Any ignition
source (flame, spark, etc.) could cause a flammable
product to burn much more violently in an
oxygen-enriched atmosphere, than it normally would in
About two weeks ago, there was an accidental
oxygen-related fire in a hospital nursery in
Minneapolis, MN, where I live. According to local news
reports, the fire was extinguished within a few seconds
by a couple nurses who were standing right there when it
happened. Tragically, a newborn baby suffered serious
burns during those few seconds before the fire was
extinguished. According to happier news reports, the
baby is recovering. But this was a frightening reminder
of how quickly an oxygen-fueled fire can do damage. If
the nurses had not been standing next to the baby when
the fire erupted......the outcome would have been
even more terrifying.
So please be cautious when using products around your
oxygen equipment. Things like hand sanitizers, creams,
lotions, or ointments might be soothing - but they could
also be hazardous in an oxygen-enriched atmosphere.
Remember the old adage....."An ounce of prevention is
worth more than a pound of cure". It is especially true
in this case.
Terry deBruyn, RRT
Nonin Medical, Inc.