Petroleum jelly has been around a long time, both in terms of its very existence (more than 150 years) and, presumably, sitting inconspicuously in your medicine cabinet or bathroom cupboard, standing by for when a need arises that only petroleum jelly can fulfill. It’s not a sexy product and you definitely should not eat it, but it does have practical uses, many of them health-related, that make it worth its weight in gold.
What Is Petroleum Jelly?
Also known as “petrolatum” and generally considered synonymous with Vaseline (a trademarked product that is essentially the same) per healthline.com, petroleum jelly contains mineral oils and waxes that have been mixed with one another. The result is a semisolid, jelly-like compound that is easily spread on surfaces, mostly human skin for its variety of practical purposes. They key ingredient is, as you might have guessed, is petroleum, which effectively seals your skin so it can heal and retain moisture.
8 Health-Related Benefits of Petroleum Jelly
- Aids in healing wounds. This includes cuts, scrapes, and burns. By sealing water into you skin, petroleum jelly provides a moist surface that enhances the healing process. Also, per webmd.com, it can help reduce the redness of a resultant scar and reduce the risk of infection.
- Prevents blisters. Runners, especially, have a deep appreciation for petroleum jelly, Before heading out for a run or a race, many runners will rub it between their thighs, on their heels, and sometimes even on their breast nipples beneath singlets or T-shirts to help prevent skin chafing caused by surfaces rubbing together from the constant motion during such long workouts or races.
- Guards against windburn. This is a serious consideration for anyone who needs to protect their faces while spending hours at a time in cold, windy conditions or moving at a fast rate of speed with the face exposed, such as high-altitude mountain climbers, skiers, and snowboarders. Petroleum jelly offers such protection.
- Wards off diaper rash. Diaper rash is quite an unpleasant physical sensation, and a crying baby will signal to you when there might be such a problem. Because diaper rash is usually the result of the infant sitting for an extended period in a wet diaper, the problem can usually be pre-empted or at least alleviated by applying petroleum jelly in the appropriate area before putting Baby into his or her next dry diaper.
- Prevents peeling. Skin that is excessively dry, as it often gets in the days following acquisition of a new sunburn, can peel, thus exacerbating the discomfort or even pain associated with the burn. Applying petroleum jelly to the affected area can provide relief.
- Reduces the risk of eczema. This is especially relevant for infants and other small children. Eczema is a common problem for newborns, solved for the most part by the application of petroleum jelly. Per medicalnewstoday.com, eczema is a skin condition in which patches can become inflamed, itchy, red, cracked, and rough.
- Works as a moisturizer. Per healthline.com, the best time to apply petroleum jelly for use as a skin moisturizer is right after you step out of the shower. Because it is a moisturizer that seals in the moisture, it keeps the skin of your face and body from drying out. The jelly’s role in such usage is compared to a greenhouse roof, sitting on top of the skin, per Mayo Clinic.
- Acts as a lip balm. Think Chapstick. Lipsticks and other products used on your lips can dry out the lips, but rubbing small amounts of jelly can help protect your lips from chapping. If you live in a northern climate which can suddenly turn cold, drying out the air around you, a small dollop on your fingertips can make for an easily applied substitute when you realize there is no Chapstick anywhere in the house. Presto, you are a homebound MacGyver; problem solved.