Using Vaseline for Psoriasis? You’ll Want to Read This

Ah, Vaseline. Can’t live with it, can’t live without it. If we were dating, our Facebook status would perpetually report that “it’s complicated.”

So what’s all the love/hate about? Well, it actually has little to do with the fact that Vaseline’s a petroleum by-product. ‘Cause even if Vaseline was super eco-friendly, it still wouldn’t be particularly skin-friendly.

What, you say? Nothing envelops my dry, cracked skin like Vaseline can, you insist.

Damn right, that’s a huge Vaseline perk and the reason it keeps drawing us back like skin crack. There is nothing – nothing – that provides that near-impenetrable seal of protective moisture like Vaseline can. Seriously, this stuff stays on you like a greasy second skin.

But that’s exactly the problem…

Why Vaseline for Psoriasis is a Bad Idea

Vaseline is an occlusive agent, meaning it literally forms a seal over your skin which feels like a godsend to dry, cracked skin and is the reason why so many of us love this greasy stuff. It’s also water-repellant and water-insoluble, which prevents moisture from escaping your skin.

The downside is that this barrier function is a double-edged sword. By forming such a tight seal over your skin, Vaseline not only blocks off air, water and anything else from getting in, but it also blocks your body’s natural elimination of things you want to get out of your skin, like toxins and bacteria.

A study published in Pediatrics found that infants treated with petroleum jelly were more likely to develop systemic candidiasis because the tight seal created a warm, moist place for fungi to grow. And if you’re using Vaseline for vaginal psoriasis (please don’t), it’s even worse – one study found that women who used petroleum jelly were 2.2 times more likely to test positive for bacterial vaginosis.

Especially in places that don’t get much air or light to begin with, your skin really needs to breathe. Not only does that allow your skin to get on with its natural respiration process, but it’s also crucial to your skin’s process of renewal, restoration and growth. Vaseline might feel like its protecting cracked, flaky skin but it’s actually smothering your skin’s cellular regeneration processes and impairing its ability to heal.

Allowing your skin to breathe also comes with better moisturizing benefits. You see, Vaseline locks whatever moisture is in the skin without allowing any moisture to be absorbed from the atmosphere and that’s actually less moisturizing in the long run than emollients that enable moisture exchange, i.e. plant oils, plant butters and beeswax.

Which brings us to the biggest question regarding using Vaseline for psoriasis: What moisture is it locking in?

Vaseline’s only function is to seal in moisture by replacing your skin’s lost protective lipid layer…but Vaseline doesn’t actually do anything to quench dry, cracked skin. It pretty much just acts like a plastic wrap, sealing your skin off from the elements and preventing whatever moisture you have (or don’t have) in your skin from evaporating. 

That’s the real reason Vaseline is so addictive – it gives a feeling of temporary hydration while doing nothing to actually nourish, heal, or restore natural moisture to your skin.  The only nourishment you’ll “get” from Vaseline itself is what was already on your skin when you sealed it in so your skin never truly gets the hydration it needs and becomes dependent on the protective seal of Vaseline to “protect” it from dryness, itching and flaking.

Should You Quit Using Vaseline?

I won’t lie to you – it’s hard to break up with Vaseline. Especially if you’ve been using the stuff long enough to have gotten very, very used to having a slimy second skin.

The good news is that there’s no need for a messy breakup – you can gently wean yourself off this substance. Let’s call this the Vaseline Fade Out. Here’s how to do it.

1. Immediately after a shower when your skin is warm and wet, rub yourself down with one or more of the best natural oils for psoriasis. These rich, nourishing oils won’t seal your skin like Vaseline does but they do truly hydrate and balance your skin’s moisture levels. You won’t get a quick fix with these but it’s a step toward restoring your skin’s ability to repair better on its own.

2. When your skin is still wet with beads of water mixed with nourishing oil, apply a bit of Vaseline to your psoriasis plaques.

Whenever you use Vaseline, just make sure you have a layer of deeply nourishing, moisturizing oil underneath it to help heal your skin. And when you finally feel your skin is ready to move on from Vaseline for good – swap out the greasy jelly for one of the natural Vaseline alternatives below.

Natural Vaseline Alternatives

Waxelene

Waxelene is being marketed as a raw, all-natural alternative to Vaseline and overall, it’s pretty good. It consists of just 4 natural ingredients: soybean oil, beeswax, vitamin E oil, and rosemary oil. They’re all organic and bring with them a bevy of skin benefits like improved blood circulation, anti-oxidant action, as well as anti-bacterial properties and anti-inflammatory properties.

Keep in mind that beeswax offers a natural protective barrier but it’s not anywhere near as “sealed-tight” as Vaseline’s. Instead, it’ll feel like the lightest, invisible layer on your skin’s surface. Quite pleasant feeling without the waxy, gooey feel of Vaseline.

Read reviews on Waxelene.

DIY Vaseline

Don’t want to fork over the cash for Waxelene? Don’t blame you, especially when you can whip some up yourself.

Plus, DIY Vaseline actually feels more like Vaseline than Waxelene. This is the best recipe – it’s got both lanolin and beeswax in it, making it helluva lot more jelly-like than any of the simpler DIY Vaseline recipes we’ve tried.

Lanolin

Every bit as protective and even thicker than petroleum jelly, lanolin comes with the added benefit of being a semi-occlusive, breathable barrier. So yes, it seals and protects your skin like Vaseline – lanolin actually holds around 400 times its weight in water – but it also allows your skin to breathe and get better moisture.

It’s also totally natural, coming from the grease extracted from sheep’s wool, and has a composition very similar to our skin’s natural sebum, which helps the healing process. Overall, lanolin’s a godsend for sore, cracked, dry and painful skin – rub on pure lanolin on very dry, very cracked areas and mix it with a natural oil, natural butters (shea butter is perfect) for a lighter lotion to use on not-so-problematic areas.

Oh, you should know that there are two kinds of pure lanolin: one is “anhydrous,” which simply means it has no water. This has a bit of an oily feel but it goes away after awhile. The other is “hydrous,” which has water and thus feels more creamy.

Read reviews on pure lanolin.

 

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