People use petroleum jelly for diaper rash, as a moisturizer, to treat skin conditions such as eczema, and as a lubricant.
In this article, learn about the uses and benefits of petroleum jelly, as well as the possible risks and side effects.
What is petroleum jelly?
Chemists derive petroleum jelly from oil. Following its accidental discovery during the oil-drilling process, it has now been around for more than 100 years.
Refined petroleum jelly is a mineral oil that many companies market as a general-purpose skin treatment.
The purity of petroleum jelly depends on the manufacturing process. Unrefined petroleum jelly may contain harmful ingredients, but refined petroleum jelly is usually safe.
It is essential to read the ingredients label and contact the manufacturer with any questions about the refining and purification process.
Purified forms of petroleum jelly do not contain dangerous ingredients. Vaseline is one of the most popular commercial forms of petroleum jelly, and according to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), it has a low risk of exposing users to carcinogens and other dangerous ingredients.
Unrefined petroleum jelly does contain some potentially dangerous contaminants. The EWG suggest that a group of carcinogens called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons could cause cancer and damage the reproductive organs.
People interested in trying petroleum jelly should buy it from a reputable source. Homemade products that contain petroleum jelly and products made by unknown manufacturers may contain harmful components.
It is also worth noting that petroleum jelly may make some skin conditions worse. The skin naturally forms a protective film after an injury, which helps prevent further damage and infection. Petroleum jelly interferes with the formation of this film.
Petroleum jelly may also clog pores. While some forms promise not to clog the pores, it forms a barrier that may cause skin breakouts, especially with frequent use. People with acne or sensitive skin should avoid using petroleum jelly on acne-prone areas, such as the face.
It is flammable, so people should avoid using it near fires, when smoking, or near other open flames. Store it in a cool, dry environment.
Petroleum jelly may also irritate the lungs, especially in large quantities. Very rarely, this irritation can cause pneumonia.
While some people use petroleum jelly to ease chapped, dry nostrils, doing so could potentially cause breathing difficulties. Use it on the skin, not inside the body. Anyone who has a respiratory condition such as asthma should speak to a doctor before using petroleum jelly near the nose or mouth.
Petroleum jelly is an affordable, multipurpose skin care product. As long as a person chooses a safe and refined form of this waxy substance, it is unlikely to cause skin problems.
However, petroleum jelly is not a substitute for other skin care choices, including a quality moisturizer. It may even make some skin conditions worse by slowing healing time.
People concerned about skin issues or interested in weighing the benefits and risks of petroleum jelly should speak to a dermatologist.
Petroleum jelly is available in grocery stores, drug stores, and online.
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