What medications contain propylene glycol?


Propylene glycol is a common ingredient in many medications. It’s also used as an additive in food, cosmetics and other consumer products. Propylene glycol is safe to consume or use on your skin, but it can cause side effects if you breathe too much of it into your lungs.

Metered-dose inhaler

As the name suggests, metered-dose inhalers are devices used to deliver small doses of medication via aerosol. They are extremely common in asthma treatment and can be found at virtually any pharmacy. The medication that is inhaled through the device comes in two forms: a powder or liquid suspension.

Propylene glycol is a solvent used in many pharmaceuticals, including those delivered by metered-dose inhalers. Propylene glycol has been connected with potential side effects like respiratory irritation, dry throat and nose and skin irritation. However, studies have not yet shown that these side effects are caused directly by propylene glycol itself; instead they may be due to other ingredients present within the medication or its delivery system (such as an MDI)


Nebulizers are a medical device that delivers liquid medications in the form of a fine mist, using compressed air. They're used for both children and adults; some people with asthma use nebulizers to treat their condition. Other people use nebulizers to help manage their cystic fibrosis symptoms by delivering medication directly to the lungs.

While propylene glycol is found in many kinds of medications, it's especially common as an ingredient in nebulizer formulations because it helps prevent clogging or blockage of the tubing used with these devices.

Ear drops

Propylene glycol is used as a preservative to prevent bacterial growth in ear drops. It can also help the medication stay in your ear longer and make it easier to apply, which is why you may notice that some types of ear drops have propylene glycol listed on the label.

But don't worry: While propylene glycol can cause irritation if you're not used to using it, it's not toxic or harmful for most people.

Eczema cream

If your skin is itchy and red, you may be dealing with eczema. Eczema is an inflammatory skin condition that can make you miserable. It often occurs on the hands and feet, though some sufferers also experience patches of it on their face or body. The cause isn't always clear, but it usually has something to do with dryness or irritation of the skin caused by scratching or rubbing against something rough. For some people, stress might be a factor as well. If left untreated, eczema can lead to serious complications like bacterial or fungal infections and other allergic reactions.

Though there's no cure for eczema yet (though researchers are working hard at figuring one out), there are things you can do to ease your symptoms until then: treating dryness by using moisturizers regularly; keeping irritants away from your skin by wearing loose clothing made out of breathable fabrics; avoiding harsh soaps that strip away natural oils from your epidermis; keeping allergens out of reach (including pets); and taking care not to scratch yourself raw—which means giving up any habits that might be making this problem worse!

Emollient cream

Emollient cream is used to treat dry skin. It contains propylene glycol, which can cause contact dermatitis.

Eye drops

  • Eye drops: These medications are used to treat dry eyes, inflammation in the eye and eye infections. They may also be prescribed to treat bacterial or viral infections.

  • Long-term use of propylene glycol in eye drops can cause corneal damage that could lead to vision loss if you don’t stop using them at least 48 hours before an eye surgery procedure.

Vaginal antifungal medications

Vaginal antifungal medications are used to treat vaginal yeast infections. They contain an ingredient called propylene glycol, which is a common preservative.

If your doctor prescribes a vaginal antifungal medication for you, ask about the risks of using this drug during pregnancy or breastfeeding. You should also ask about any potential side effects and how these might affect your unborn baby or breast milk supply.

Vaginal lubricant

A vaginal lubricant is a product that you apply to the vagina before sex to help reduce friction and increase comfort. They're usually made with water and glycerin, or some other kind of sweetener. Some vaginal lubricants also contain propylene glycol—which is used in anti-freeze!

Vaginal lubricants can be extremely beneficial for sexual health, but they do have some risks as well. If you're considering using one, talk with your doctor first.

Mouthwash or rinse

The most common use for propylene glycol in mouthwash or rinse is as a humectant. It helps retain water and moisture, which is especially helpful when you're using a product to prevent tooth decay. It also helps prevent oral infections by fighting off bacteria and inhibiting the growth of fungus.

Propylene glycol can also be used to help create foam in some mouthwashes, giving it a thicker consistency than other types of mouthwash formulas.

Many common medications contain propylene glycol

Propylene glycol is a common ingredient in many topical medications, including:

  • Sunscreens

  • Antiperspirants and deodorants

  • Topical analgesics, such as creams for arthritis pain or muscle soreness (diclofenac, ibuprofen)

  • Lotions for skin conditions like psoriasis and eczema (clobetasol propionate)


While propylene glycol is a common ingredient in many medications, it is still possible to find alternatives if you prefer not to use them. You can also ask your pharmacist about ways to minimize the amount of propylene glycol in your medication. For more info on PG see our blog.