When you travel via plane, you’re basically in a constant battle against a whole lotta virus-causing germs and bacteria that boarded along with your fellow passengers. Besides stocking up on hand sanitizer, wiping down anything and everything you touch, and dodging your seatmate’s coughs like a boss, there’s only so much you can do. Well, royal mom-to-be Meghan Markle has a smart cold-busting trick up her stylish sleeve—and she just so happened to steal it from Leonardo DiCaprio.
On her now-defunct lifestyle blog The Tig, the duchess shared some tips she has for taking care of herself when she’s jet-setting around the globe. She uses hand wipes on the TV, service tray, and buttons; always has a Lenny Kravitz-worthy scarf or blanket to keep her warm; and pops a high-strain probiotic (she likes these!). But, her most unique tip is courtesy of Mr. DiCaprio. “A dear friend of mine once told me that Leonardo DiCaprio gave her an excellent travel tip,” she writes. “Evidently, he said that to avoid getting sick on planes, he puts a little Neosporin on a cotton swab and coats the inside of his nostrils.”
“A dear friend of mine once told me that Leonardo DiCaprio gave her an excellent travel tip. Evidently, he said that to avoid getting sick on planes, he puts a little Neosporin on a cotton swab and coats the inside of his nostrils.” —Meghan Markle
But do docs back up his go-to hack? Well, halfway. “Neosporin is an antibiotic ointment, and antibiotics don’t work against viruses,” says ER doctor Darria Long Gillespie, MD, author of Mom Hacks. “Nothing in the triple antibiotic formula will help against the cold or flu.” In fact, according to Tania Mucci-Elliott, MD, an allergist and immunologist at NYU Langone Health, putting Neosporin in your nose might do more harm than good: “In the absence of an infection, the antibiotics in the ointment can kill off the good bacteria in your nasal passages or on your skin,” she says.
The petroleum component, rather, is what experts point to as a smart choice due to its ability to rehydrate your nasal passages—something Dr. Long Gillespie says is especially good for people who get super-dry. “Using an ointment as a moisture barrier is potentially beneficial in fighting off infection, but you don’t need an antibiotic ointment.” she says. To go the natural route, Dr. Mucci-Elliot recommends just looking in your pantry: “Try some coconut oil. Apply it to a Q-tip, and line your nasal passages with it. It’s a great, natural way to keep your nose hydrated,” she says.
Not everyone loves the feeling of ointment in their nostrils, though, so Dr. Gillespie says saline nasal spray can work. “Use it preventively to prevent dry nasal passages—as breaking the moisture barrier can up your risk for infection—and also to help rinse out infection if you do feel yourself start to get sick,” she says. So there you have it: Thanks to Markle and DiCaprio, your travel kit is definitely getting a couple new additions.
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