Is Vaseline Good For Eczema (When To Use And Avoid)

As a child, Vaseline was one of the first moisturizers I used to soothe eczema. At the time I didn’t know if Vaseline was good for eczema but it was something I I didn’t have to go out and buy – I think Vaseline exists in almost every home in America.

Vaseline is a “good for everything” product. It can be applied to cuts, dry skin, in noses and ears, and can even help scars. It goes on super thick and can keep skin supple for a whole day while other oils and lotions only last a few hours.

I’ve used Vaseline on and off for decades. I’ve occasionally applied it to eczema and I’ll share what I’ve learned. Vaseline can be good for eczema if used properly and I’ll share what to look for if you’re considering using Vaseline.

What Is Vaseline

Before we delve into whether Vaseline is good for eczema we should take a look at what Vaseline is. Vaseline is essentially a petroleum jelly and a byproduct of oil extraction.

It was first known as “rod wax”, a substance that had to be removed from oil rig pumps. After a refining and purification process, the oil was used as a “medicinal” product to lubricate and insulate the skin.

The origins of Vaseline is quite strange to think about (a byproduct of oil rigs?) but never-the-less it’s a useful product and staple in our medicine cabinets.

My Two Stages Of Eczema

Type 1: Dry and Flakey But Not Red

This type is simply the “dry skin”. White flakey skin that needs moisture. I find that Vaseline works great to reduce the flakiness and appearance.

I travel a lot for work and often use Vaseline on my eyelids, behind my ears, and in my nose to seal in moisture. The thin air while flying tends to suck the moisture from my skin and Vaseline helps.

I’ll share why Vaseline is good for this type of eczema.

Type 2: Red and Weeping Eczema

This type of eczema is red and weeping. It is clearly irritated and is visible to other people.

This is when my dust mite allergies and pollen allergies are exacerbating my skin.

I’ve tried using Vaseline for red, irritated eczema and it’s actually made my eczema worse. My skin couldn’t breathe. It became even more red. I’ll share why Vaseline is bad for this type of eczema

When Vaseline Is Good For Eczema Is Vaseline good for eczema - 1

Vaseline is great for the 1st type of eczema I described above. Depending on the severity of my eczema I’ve often turned to Vaseline to reduce my dry skin. There’s no doubt Vaseline helps seal in moisture and keeps skin supple.

Another characteristic I like about Vaseline is it lasts all day.

People with severe eczema often need to apply lotion multiple times throughout the day. If I use regular lotion (for example Cetaphil) I need to apply it a few times, however, Vaseline applies thick and doesn’t absorb into the skin.

Below are a few reasons why Vaseline is good for eczema.

  • Lasts 6-12 hours (much longer than other lotions)
  • Creates a seal by adding a protective layer on top of the skin
  • Fragrance-free
  • Good for scratches that have scabbed and are healing (elasticity)
  • Reduces dry flaky skin better than lotions
  • Perfect for dry skin on long flights

When Vaseline Is Bad For Eczema

Vaseline is bad for eczema if you’re experiencing the 2nd type of eczema I described. The problem with eczema is that it likes to “breathe”. Once you apply Vaseline your skin has a seal over it. It isn’t breathable and can actually suffocate pores.

Vaseline can also be difficult to clean from skin (after all, it’s an oil). If I’m experiencing an eczema outbreak or a general worsening of eczema, I’ll never apply Vaseline.

I’ll wait for it to calm down – hopefully, a few weeks – and once it is dry and not red I feel it’s safe to use Vaseline. There are a few other reasons I won’t use Vaseline for my eczema. These include:

  • Oil can stain pillows and sheets
  • Can stain clothes
  • Gives off an unnatural shiny appearance if used on the face
  • If eczema is itchy my hands will spread the oil to other places (couches, pants, walls – anything I touch)
  • If I’ll be showering/bathing within a few hours (it’s difficult to remove)

Vaseline and Eczema: Application Strategies

Over the years I’ve learned how and when to apply Vaseline. Here are my tips for applying Vaseline to my face and body.

  • Use a cotton swab or cotton ball to apply (no fingers)
  • Apply thin layers (especially on the face so it’s not noticeable)
  • Apply at least 30 minutes before bed to avoid getting oil all over pillows while sleeping
  • Apply to nose, eyes, lips, and ears before and during flights
  • If applying under expensive clothes use a band-aid to prevent oil from staining clothes

Moisturizing my eczema has caused me to ruin plenty of clothes and bed sheets. I’m careful of what I apply to my body and when I apply it.

Conclusion

Is Vaseline good for eczema? Based on the information I provided I’ll let you decide for yourself.

Over the years I’ve used Vaseline on many occasions to keep my skin moisturized. It’s an interesting substance that found its way from the oil fields to our medicine cabinets and people still claim it’s a “cure-all”.

While Vaseline isn’t my favorite moisturizer, it will certainly remain as a product I use occasionally. I always use it when traveling as it provides an extra layer of protection for my skin. I also use it when I have dry spots that are dry and flakey.

However, I’ve also learned when not to use Vaseline. I’ll never use Vaseline during times when my skin is inflamed or red. It only seems to make my skin worse because my skin can’t breathe or dry out.

We learn with every product and every situation. Having eczema isn’t fun, but I’m slowly understanding what I can do to help and impede the healing process.

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