No one wants to get the flu this season. So when you find flu-prevention tips online through social media, it may be tempting to try them out.

Take this so-called flu remedy: Applying a thin layer of antibiotic ointment to the inside of your nose to prevent the flu. It apparently creates a barrier in your nose to prevent germs from getting into your body.

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A post floating around claims it's so, stating: "For about $3 you can get this ointment containing bacitracin zinc to aid in preventing contracting the flu virus and other germs." It added, "use a q-tip and apply a thin layer inside each nostril daily."

So does it work? We spoke to medical professionals to get an answer.


Does applying antibiotic ointment inside your nose help prevent the flu?


FALSE. It's an old wives tale.


11Alive's sister station KCEN spoke to Dr. Chris Ohl at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, who said the suggestion has "no validity to them at all."

It's mostly due to the fact that antibiotic ointment treats bacteria. The flu is a virus.

Further, Dr. Pat Meadors with Piedmont Health says flu is actually spread by droplets. So, even if that ointment did create a barrier against the flu in your nose, you can still get the illness if you touch your mouth or your eyes.

So we can verify this claim is false. Antibiotic ointment is not going to prevent you from getting the flu.

The best way to avoid getting the flu is to just get the flu shot.


Dr. Chris Ohl, Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center

Dr. Pat Meadors, Piedmont Healthcare


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