The skin is the body’s largest organ, so it’s important to take good care of it. However, doing so doesn’t necessarily mean breaking the bank, say dermatologists from the American Academy of Dermatology. In fact, petroleum jelly, a common, inexpensive product found in most people’s medicine cabinets, can have multiple skin care uses for the entire family.
“When it comes to skin care, expensive isn’t always better,” said board-certified dermatologist Rebecca Baxt, MD, FAAD, who maintains a private practice in Paramus, N.J., and New York. “Petroleum jelly, which can be found in just about anyone’s local drugstore, is great for moisturizing rough, cracked feet, elbows and hands, and protecting kids’ scrapes and bumps.”
To save on skin care, Dr. Baxt recommends using petroleum jelly to:
- Relieve dry skin, including lips and eyelids: Dry skin can flake, itch, crack and even bleed. Since ointments are more effective and less irritating than lotions, consider applying petroleum jelly to dry skin, including your lips and eyelids. The skin on your eyelids is the thinnest skin on the body and can get irritated easily. If your eyelids get dry and flaky, apply a small amount of petroleum jelly for moisture and protection. For the best results, always apply petroleum jelly when your skin is damp.
- Help injured skin heal: For minor wounds such as cuts, scrapes and scratches, use petroleum jelly to keep the wound moist. This helps prevent the wound from drying out and forming a scab, as scabs take longer to heal. This will also help prevent a scar from getting too large, deep or itchy. As long as the wound is cleaned daily, it is not necessary to use antibacterial ointments.
- Prevent chafing: Chafing is a painful skin irritation that occurs when body parts rub together or rub against clothing. To prevent chafing that can lead to blisters, apply petroleum jelly to problem areas, such as the feet or thighs.
- Treat diaper rash: The best way to prevent diaper rash is to keep your baby’s skin as dry and clean as possible. However, if your baby does get a rash, apply petroleum jelly during each diaper change. With the right care, your baby’s rash should clear in about three to four days. If the rash doesn’t go away, see a board-certified dermatologist.
- Rehydrate nails: If you frequently get manicures and pedicures, apply petroleum jelly to your nails and cuticles in between polishes. This will minimize brittleness and help prevent your nails from chipping. For the best results, apply it when your nails are damp.
“While petroleum jelly has many benefits, it shouldn’t be used for everything,” said Dr. Baxt. “Avoid putting petroleum jelly on your face if you are acne-prone, as this may cause breakouts in some people. If you have questions about your skin or how to take care of it, see a board-certified dermatologist.”
These tips are demonstrated in “5 Ways to Use Petroleum Jelly for Skin Care,” a video posted to the AAD website and YouTube channel. This video is part of the AAD’s “Video of the Month” series, which offers tips people can use to properly care for their skin, hair and nails. A new video in the series posts to the AAD website and YouTube channel each month.