Due to its hydrating and moisturizing properties, petroleum jelly may help treat eczema and prevent eczema flare-ups.

There is currently no cure for eczema or atopic dermatitis, but treatments can help heal the affected areas and prevent flare-ups. People may use prescription creams and ointments or over-the-counter products to treat eczema symptoms.

This article examines whether petroleum jelly helps treat eczema, how to use it, the possible side effects, and frequently asked questions.

there is a black and white photo of a tub of petroleum jellyShare on Pinterest
towfiqu ahamed/Getty Images

Products and ointments with high oil content, such as petroleum jelly, are usually the first choice for eczema treatment because they help seal in moisture.

The National Eczema Association recommends petroleum jelly for people with eczema who have a compromised skin barrier, as it helps speed up the recovery.

According to a 2017 study, petroleum jelly is the most cost effective and preventive method for treating eczema flare-ups. Still, further research must explore the effects in larger samples and across different age groups since this study focused on newborns and infants.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that, while petroleum jelly cannot fully heal the skin, it can help protect, soothe, and repair dry skin.

Read more about the benefits of petroleum jelly.

People may wish to clean their hands before using the product. Generally, apply a thin coat of petroleum jelly to the affected area using the fingertips.

Aim to apply petroleum jelly daily — even when the skin is not experiencing an eczema flare — to help prevent dryness. People can manage eczema flares by implementing a daily bathing and moisturizing routine.

According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), people should apply petroleum jelly when their skin is damp for the best results.

Wet wraps

Using petroleum jelly as part of wet wrap therapy can also be beneficial. Once the skin has absorbed the ointment, people can apply dressing or wet wraps to help lock in the moisture.

Learn more about eczema skin care routines and products.

Most people using this treatment do not experience any serious side effects. An older 2016 study concluded that petroleum jelly rarely causes reactions and stated that there are no reported cases of contact anaphylaxis (a severe allergic response).

If a person experiences any negative reactions, they should consult a dermatologist or another medical professional about a suitable alternative.

The AAD claims that if someone is acne-prone, they should avoid putting petroleum jelly on their face, as it may lead to breakouts in some people. However, further research needs to investigate these claims.

People should take care when applying petroleum jelly near the eyes, as it may temporarily blur vision. Also, if people use it excessively, it may cause issues with the oil production that keeps the eyes lubricated.

Below are some frequently asked questions regarding the use of petroleum jelly for eczema.

Is Aquaphor or petroleum jelly better for eczema?

Both Aquaphor and petroleum jelly may help treat eczema. Both products contain petroleum as their main ingredient. In addition to protecting the skin barrier, Aquaphor has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

Older research mentions a few cases in which people had a reaction to lanolin, one of the ingredients in Aquaphor. But the sample was small, so this research is not entirely conclusive about the negative effects of this product.

A person should consult a dermatologist to find the best treatment for their eczema and skin type.

Learn more about Aquaphor for eczema.

Does petroleum jelly help with itchy skin?

Petroleum jelly helps with itchy skin. The most effective way to treat itchy, dry skin is to moisturize and help the skin retain that moisture.

The AAD suggests that petroleum jelly relieves dry skin. It also helps with injuries and may prevent itching.

Is Vaseline good for eczema on the face?

Applying Vaseline or petroleum jelly to the face may cause breakouts in some people. However, generally, people can apply Vaseline to any part of their body that eczema affects.

Read more about using Vaseline on the face.

Petroleum jelly is the most cost effective and preventive method to treat eczema flare-ups. It helps address dryness due to eczema by protecting the skin barrier and moisturizing the skin.

People can use petroleum jelly as part of their daily skin care routine and apply it to damp skin for the best results.

Some people may find that petroleum jelly has negative effects on their skin, particularly if they have acne-prone skin. It also may affect vision if it gets into the eyes. While petroleum jelly has few side effects, a person should speak with a dermatologist if they notice any negative reactions.