A surprisingly frequently asked question around vaping is the risk of nosebleeds – which I think we can all agree are less than convenient at the best of times. The scary thing about nosebleeds is the fact that they can be a sign that something may be going wrong in our bodies.
Of course this isn’t always the case, it’s rare to find a person who hasn’t caught or nicked their nose and drawn a little blood by accident. With that said though, if you hadn’t had them before you vaped, and suddenly you’ve sprung a leak, you are going to want to get some answers.
Read on as we explore what we know about vaping and nosebleeds.
Will Vaping Make My Nose Bleed?
The short answer here is yes, it seems that vaping has the potential to contribute to nosebleeds, however the research we have found suggests you need to be a pretty heavy vaper to face a significant risk, or be unlucky enough to have a pre-existing condition.
Much the same as some other burning questions about vaping, there isn’t a huge wealth of studies specifically looking into the nosebleed phenomenon. There have however been a few articles in publications such as The Metro, which suggest it is the act of exhaling through the nose regularly which can lead to the issue.
Why Could Exhaling Vape Make My Nose Bleed?
The information we do have to draw from, suggests that one ingredient in particular is the catalyst – Propylene Glycol AKA PG. it has been suggested that PG causes drying of the nostril tissue when vapour is regularly exhaled nasally.
PG is the ingredient we use in e-liquids to help carry flavour and nicotine, and it is balanced with Vegetable Glycerol (VG – responsible for vapour clouds and a smoother hit) to create an e-liquid that blends together properly when we mix them (learn more about the ingredients in vape juices here).
Healthline tells us that Propylene Glycol is a very common ingredient in all sorts of products from skincare to food stuffs, but it is generally know as having three main properties:
PG as a Preservative
“Propylene glycol can help lengthen the shelf life of skin care products thanks to antimicrobial properties that help prevent the overgrowth of microorganisms. This helps preserve the products.”
PG as a Humectant
“At low levels, propylene glycol is often used to improve moisturizing benefits of a skin care product, as it has a high affinity for water.”
“Humectants pull water into the skin and help keep it there for more supple, hydrated skin. That’s why propylene glycol is often used in moisturizing formulations.”
PG Enhances Other Ingredients
Much like it’s role as a carrier in e-liquids, when used in cosmetics Healthline tells us that:
“Active ingredients can better penetrate the skin, thanks to propylene glycol. To put it another way, your favourite serum may work well because of the benefits of this additive.”
Joshua Zeichner, a dermatologist and Professor from New York, stresses that “many products contain propylene glycol, and they are safe to use for the general population.”
If PG is used in Moisturiser, Why Would it Dry Out My Nose?
As Healthline tells us, PG is a humectant, which means it attracts water. The suggestion is that while it can be used to help draw moisture from the air to the skin in topical creams to improve moisturisation, when exhaled through the nose it is possible that it is having the opposite effect.
The suggestion is that the PG we exhale could actually be drawing water away from our nostrils which are naturally kept moist internally. With repeated exposure, such as a regular vaping habit, some UK vapers have reported that they have noticed a severe drying of the nose which has triggered random nosebleeds.
One such vaper, William Keeler, told Metro.co.uk he experienced this in a particularly bad way – and that at its worst he was “picking bits of flesh from my nostrils”.
“You know when you touch an open wound, and it burns? That’s what it felt like – there was a really strong burning inside my nose,’ he said.”
“And there was constantly a bad smell – which I can only describe as the smell of poo – all day, every day.”
“I went to the doctors and at first they thought I was using cocaine, which I wasn’t.”
“Then when I said I vaped, they told me to stop exhaling it out of my nose and to breath out of my mouth. After a few months it was much better.”
Does This Mean Vaping is Dangerous?
While this example sounds quite extreme, Professor John Britton, Prof of epidemiology and director of the UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Related Studies offered some simple advice for vapers who are concerned about this drying effect from PG:
“Exhale through your mouth” he told Metro.co.uk. “Propylene glycol does cause some drying as well as mild irritation of the airways.”
For any vaper currently experiencing any bleeding or nasal irritation, he offered this advice:
“If you can, it’s probably best to give vaping a rest completely for this time. Try also regularly dabbing small amounts of Vaseline onto the lining inside your nose, to sooth the dryness and add a bit of moisture.”
While that sounds like sensible advice, we certainly aren’t doctors here at LiQuid, and so we can only ever recommend that if you are worried about side effects from vaping, talk them through with your GP – they will give you the best and most qualified advice.
It should also be noted that, according to Healthline, sufferers of conditions like eczema, allergies and sensitive skin run a higher risk of PG drying out their nose.
Despite the fact remaining that more studies are needed into specific side effects from vaping, Prof Simon Capwell, VP of the Faculty for Public Health told the Metro that “Vaping is the second best someone trying to quit smoking can do” but acknowledges that it is not risk-free.
Mirroring this opinion, Rosanna O’Connor, director of Alcohol Drugs & Tobacco at Public Health England said:
“The evidence is clear that vaping is much less harmful to health than smoking and the best thing a smoker can do for themselves and those around them is to quit completely, now and forever.”