Petroleum Jelly Is My Friend…

Okay, heads out of the gutter, please. This is not that kind of discussion.

Honestly, I have found that petroleum jelly–and, I mean PURE petroleum jelly–has proven to be the only reliable product to effectively seal in moisture and seal out irritants when my eczema flare-ups are very bad. And, if you’ve seen the photo of me in my introduction post, that’s not quite as bad as they can get.

Now, again, I’m talking about pure petroleum jelly, which is simply a mixture of hydrocarbons, and nothing else. To my great dismay, the Vaseline brand seems to have flooded the retail shelves with Vaseline Cocoa Butter and Vaseline Baby both of which have added fragrance. Fragrance is a very bad thing for eczema sufferers. And, it appears that many of the stores in my local area are reducing the shelf space occupied by fragrance-free petroleum jelly. I’ve ended up shopping in the infants isle at a major discount store to find what I want as stock–during this bad economy–is not refilled as often as it may be needed (all stock, not just personal jelly products).

Despite that petroleum jelly is horribly inconvenient, greasy, occlusive, and a complete mess to apply, I have found that it does the best job of keeping what little moisture is already in my skin, in there, and helping to soften and protect the inflammation without causing complications. Well, the only complications it does seem to cause is with clothing and furniture and, well, anything I may come in contact with after I’ve coated my entire body with it.

I have tried many, many moisturisers, both over-the-counter and prescription, and I have not yet found one that can alleviate the tight, dry, tearing and burning sensations my skin has when the inflammation gets bad. Additionally, many of the moisturisers labelled “ultra-calming”, “calming cream”, and “intense repair”, basically do nothing of the sort. Not for me, at least. In fact, they tend to aggravate and exacerbate the inflammation making it necessary for me wash the stuff off, and call petroleum jelly to the rescue.

I’m sure that the manufacturers of these products have tested the calming and repairing effects on someone, or at least something, and it is certainly possible that they had never intended the products to be used to treat a medical disease like acute dermatitis. But, maybe, marketing should have been told something about leading desparate people to a false hope.

At least, there’s good ole petroleum jelly, still around when it’s needed.

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69 Responses to Petroleum Jelly Is My Friend…

  1. Michael Hez says:

    I totally agree. I tried all the doctor stuff of steroids and creams. I get my PJ from the dollar store and it does say 100% white Petrolatum.
    I smear it like there’s no tomorrow. My feet smeared and then soxxed, after three days lost their calluses (I also have been using urea so they weren’t that callused but they were still dry) and have become so moist and sensuous to the touch it is mind bending. (In the beginning I was applying it to my feet at least three times a day, keeping the same PJ enriched socks—fo the day.) I smear it my whole body and then rub down to my eczema areas where I then slather it. In heavy use at the beginning I wore enough clothing to protect my furniture and then draped furniture I used with blankets I could later throw into the wash. I carried a little container of PJ round so I could reinvigorate my eczema area.

    I cannot believe how supple and moist my skin is. I am now able to use it more lightly, now that my eczema is gone (99%); sort of a maintenance programme. I do rub it off the palms of my hands so I am not stickying everything I touch. I use it on my face at night and morning; and then, before I go out, I do a gentle rub down so I am not dripping in the oil. My heals and elbows are amazingly soft and smooth. As a man I never thought about my skin before, but after the horrors of terminal eczema, vanity can get a bit of a boost which, when caring for your largest organ, is maybe not such a bad thing. Strangely, I have always, more often than not, had an itchy belly button. Using it as a spare container for extra PJ, the itch is gone. It’s a miracle. What I suspect happens is that bacteria can’t grow in PJ, it prevents bacteria getting to open sites and they are sent off to their maker instead of doing the cuddle with their mates in you. My itchy eyebrows are a misery of the past. My lips are supple, and the little lady has commented on the fact. Small children do not run in horror when i pull up a pant leg to scratch (well I don’t have do do that any more) and my mother doesn’t throw a sheet over me whenever I visit. Life rocks on with PJ, bud.

  2. Michael Hez says:

    Greg, I forgot to add, yours is the first search I have been able to find that espouses, so whole heartedly, the wonders of this petroleum miracle. Let the word spread so eczema can become known only in the past tense. Men have a tendency to do things over-board. In this case, I suspect, is how it must be done to have the best results. Later, one can step back from the slippery experience.

  3. sunny says:

    Has anyone here tried Aveeno cream? Its expensive but its also available on prescription so if you have a prepaid prescription card its free. Its the next best thing to petroleum jelly, coming from an eczema sufferer of 30 years and constant dry skin, itching etc (UK)

    • Greg Stewart says:

      Sunny, I’m not sure exactly which “Aveeno Cream” you mean. Aveeno have several different products they label as ‘Cream’. But, my personal experience with Aveeno products has not been a good one.

      Most (if not all) of their fragrance-free products contain Dimethicone which is a silicone-based lubricant. I happen to be very sensitive to it, and it makes my eczema far worse.

      The kicker is that Aveeno/Johnson & Johnson have several products that do not contain any Dimethicone, that are actually very excellent moisturisers. Unfortunately, they all contain super-offensive amounts of perfume that not only aggravate my eczema, but cause me to have severe asthma attacks (worse than the eczema flare-ups).

      I have basically abandoned Aveeno/J&J after all my calls to their customer support line were met with an exceeding amount of apathy from their representatives, and after having spent quite a lot of money trying their products, their only consolation was to offer me a US$10 coupon for more of their products.

      But, if the product works for you, by all means continue to use it.

    • Ne Da Vd says:

      I totally agree with you Sunny. Aveeno cream is just fascinating for eczema. Recently, my eczema had got very annoying (due to cold winter weather) and my fingertips started peeling off! The only cream which rescued me, was Aveeno. The only problem is that it’s a bit expensive considering the generous amount of moisturizer you need to use when you have eczema.

  4. Major Tom says:

    Lol i’ve bought so many products in the hope they would help with my eczema. I like your post.

  5. bunny says:

    I am so happy to come across this blog. I suffer from eczema, I’ve been having it forever, since I was a baby and recently I have been going though a really bad eczema attack that is causing inflammation on my chest, shoulders, stomach and arms; I’m scarring like crazy and the itching is consistent. The creams that were giving to me by my doctor has definitely not been helping. I am happy to read this blog post because I am happy that I am not the only one who uses petroleum jelly, a lot of people think it’s gross to even touch that stuff. I slather it everywhere, esp. on the badly effected areas, every night after I shower, before I go to sleep. It is literally my best friend, I always have it with me especially now that I am in college and living away from home. It’s been a really hard and itchy ride but my petroleum jelly gets me through it.
    **Even though I am going to the dermatologist hoping they will recommend me something that will help me with this.

  6. Gerry says:

    I started developing eczema late in life — as a senior — a couple of years ago. Fortunately it has only involved my feet so far. It starts around the ankles and achilles tendon on each foot, then spreads to the top of the foot right up to the toes. I tried various remedies, among which were Cortef (a weak formula of hydrocortisone), ibuprofen and Cetaphil cream. The topical remedies didn’t help very much, but 200 mg. of ibuprofen once or twice a day provided some relief from the inflammation.

    Since I didn’t like the risks associated with taking ibuprofen internally on a regular basis, I asked a pharmacist whether he could recommend a topical anti-inflammatory preparation. Almost the first words out of his mouth were “ask your doctor to prescribe 100 grams of a stronger hydrocortisone cream.” When I told him that Cetaphil cream hadn’t helped much, he started showing me some other moisturizers, and mentioned that many of them contained small amounts of petroleum jelly. I asked him whether Vaseline petroleum jelly could help entirely on its own. He grinned rather sheepishly, and replied, “Well, yes.” The sheepish grin seemed to signify an admission involving the loss of a big sale; after all, those other creams and lotions are rather big ticket items. ;)

    Long story short, I decided to try pure Vaseline petroleum jelly yesterday, as I’d had an earlier hunch about it, anyway. It provided immediate relief. I ran across your website shortly after the first application, and I share your enthusiasm, because after only 24 hours, in the middle of a severe flare-up, the itching has disappeared. It’s evening now, when I usually get the worst itching, but I’m very comfortable. The skin discoloration is still there, but no one has to look at my feet anyway. It’s a shame that I have to see them, but you can’t have everything. Vaseline saved me a doctor’s appointment, as well as a hell of a lot of expense at the pharmacy.

    Many thanks for your blog!

  7. Melinda says:

    I put Aloe Vera gel in fridge, then put a dab of that, let it sit for few seconds (absorb a little, but not all the way dry), then smear petroleum jelly over it. It really helps feel a lot better and after just a couple days of 2- 3 times a day, I’m just pink (rather than red and inflamed-looking) and not itchy/painful anymore.

  8. pplum says:

    I’m doing care giving and have to wear latex free, powder free gloves at work. My hands started to break out shortly after that. I used to get it as a child. PJ has always worked for me but wearing the gloves and washing my hands in warm water just made them itch immediately. Letting cold water run over my hands immediately stops the itching. Started washing with cold water and antibacterial soap then slathering them pure petroleum jelly while they are still damp. I wash this way as soon as I remove the gloves and this has worked wonders. My hands are almost healed, even though I still have to wear the gloves.

    • Greg Stewart says:

      PPlum,

      One key anti-itch treatment that all my dermatologists have pushed is cold, usually in the form of ice. So, I’m happy to hear that cold water is actually helping reduce the itch.

      I used to work in a semiconductor clean room, where the use of latex & PVC gloves was a requirement for the entire shift. The PVC were better than the latex, but still difficult to deal with–and, that was long before my eczema grew to the uncontrollable levels I experience, today. Part of the problem was the sweating, the rest was the glove material.

      Antibacterial soap, on the other hand, is something that I have practical troubles with. It is a contentious issue in the medical community as anti-bacterial soaps have the potential to help bacteria strains develop resistance to the anti-bacterial agents in the soaps. This can render the soaps useless, and make the bacteria stronger and more durable. But, trying to find a non-anti-bacterial soap is next to impossible, these days. I do recommend a liquid soap with the least possible fragrance.

      I only use the SoftSoap “Clean Protection” hand soap as that is the only liquid soap I have been able to find with a fragrance that does not seem to bother my skin or my asthma. Also, Walmart sell the large refill bottles of it, which makes it more economical than buying a new wee pump bottle every time. (I should add a review of this soap, I guess.)

      I’m not sure where to get them–or, if they are even available–but, have you tried to find cotton liners for the gloves? I know the photo industry used to have access to inexpensive, thin cotton gloves that we used for handling prints and negatives to protect them from greasy hands. But, I’m going back about 20 years with this. We got them in large bags containing maybe 500 each. Cheap, flimsy, industrial and disposable, but I’m thinking something like that would be perfect.

      Anyway, I am very glad things are getting better for you. Stay diligent, and as long as you can identify and avoid the triggers, things will continue to get better.

      –Greg

  9. Jennifer says:

    I’m 17 and I have chronic eczema. I have carried around a tin of Vaseline for years now as I constantly have dry lips but I have never thought about applying it to my eczema. Clearly it works for some people though, so I will try it and see if it makes a difference!

  10. Veronique says:

    Loved your post. Just came home with a tub of “100%” petroleum jelly only to open it and get a big whiff of powder-y fragrance. Will be returning asap and getting a fragrance-free tub from the dollar store most likely. Have spent hundreds on skincare and this is the best for irritated skin. Love it around eyes and lips.

    • Greg Stewart says:

      Veronique, I’ve so often been seen thoroughly inspecting tubs of petroleum jelly in the stores that people may think I’m a bit of a pervert. But, it’s absolutely necessary to make sure the product has no fragrance, and with so many stores now only carrying Vaseline “Fresh Scent”, “Cocoa Butter”, and “Baby” (which all have added fragrance), I’ve abandoned the Vaseline brand, altogether.

      A brand called Cottontails, which is usually found in the baby aisle, make pure, fragrance-free petroleum jelly. I haven’t actually paid attention to the price, but it may be a bit cheaper, and it’s also a bit easier to spread (Vaseline seems always to require a bit more effort).

      I haven’t been to the dollar stores for petrolatum, but if the labels don’t say anything about added fragrance, try opening the lid on each tub to take a sniff before buying it (petrolatum tubs are usually not sealed).

  11. Anne says:

    I just put some PJ on my terrible eczema plagued face. I have it over my whole body, but the face is the most noticable. I am hoping that it will help clear up the redness, and the flakiness. I have had eczema since I was 3 months old. (will be 59 in Feb.) This is the worst flare-up that I can remember. I’ve tried many things including Aveeno, and Aveeno especially for eczema. They seem to make it more red. Please pray that this works for me. It’s rough walking through the grocery store and having kids stare at my face.

  12. Amy says:

    i am almost 20 now. My eczema started only two years ago on my feet. my left foot has cleared as it was no was as bad as the right foot. it started as a smallpatch on the top of my foot, that then worked down to my toes and up my ankle. I have used e45 creams at first but it did nothing, it moisturized my skin but it still flaked. I then tried E45 itch releif.. do not buy it. It can cause very bad burning and itching. So then i started using cetraben cream. That worked ok but needed alot of applications and didn’t stop the itch. I am now using diprobase… it is having the same effect as the diprobase.. today i bought PJ. i’m hoping that this works! after reading the feedback on here, i’m very exited, and it is so cheap to buy! doctors just want to make money so they start you on mild creams so that you will go back for somthing stronger.

    • Greg Stewart says:

      Amy,

      Since your eczema is only on your feet, have you suspected your shoes and/or socks as possible sources of the flare-ups? If you wear leather shoes, or socks made from anything other than cotton, these could be triggers.

      Also, do you notice any difference in your flare-ups when wearing shoes or going bare-foot?

      Did anything change two years ago that would come into contact with your feet? (I.e., new flooring/carpeting, change of residence, different bathtub/shower, new pet, personal care products, etc.)

      I believe the E45 creams contain lanolin which can cause dermatitis–if you are allergic to wool, you are allergic to lanolin.

      Cetraben and Diprobase are very much like Hydrolatum, but with different emuslifers and other agents. I try to stay away from emulsifiers as these can be additional sources of irritation. Cetraben also has glycerine which can cause some burning. I’m not fond of the parabens in Hydrolatum and Cetraben. I have not actually tried the Diprobase.

      I can say this: whatever you use to moisturise, you should expect to apply it often over the course of the day.

      For the itch, I would try ice (if you can bear it). You might also try small amounts of topical Benedryl cream on occasion (but, don’t over do it–it can potentially cause an allergic reaction if used too frequently).

      –Greg

  13. Alison says:

    I just wanted to mention that we use Alba’s UnPetroleum Jelly on our 7 year old. Obviously each body is different, but hers does quite well with it and I’m a bit happier that she isn’t slathered in petroleum everyday.

    • Greg Stewart says:

      Alison, yes, being slathered in petroleum jelly every day isn’t pleasant. Happy to hear your daughter is tolerating the Un-Petroleum Jelly. Unfortunately, my skin will no longer tolerate the coconut or soy bean oils, nor the beeswax, so it’s not an option for me.

      I do wish there were something on the market that I could use that isn’t as destructive on my clothing as raw petroleum jelly.

  14. TerryO says:

    Developed eczema one year ago at 68. Ice helps, Allegra on a daily basis – but it doesn’t last 24 hrs. Started using PJ on a grand scale about 1 week ago and not sure if it’s helping the itch. I put it on when still partially dripping from shower. The good thing about doing it this way (aside from sealing in moisture) is that the water left from the shower makes the PJ much less gooey and sticky. Really makes a tremendous difference.
    Someone asked about the cheap cotton gloves. I have looked everywhere on line for them and can’t find. If anyone knows how/where to get them, please post.

    • Greg Stewart says:

      Terry,

      I was juggling Allegra, Claritin, Zyrtec, Benedryl, and hydroxyzine with little reliability. Sometimes it helped. More often it didn’t do much for me. Hopefully it’s giving you some relief.

      The petroleum jelly really doesn’t help the itch all that much. And, since it is very occlusive, if you apply it too heavily it may actually add to it. I have found it best to apply it thinly, but frequently. rather than trying to make it last longer by applying thick layers of it.

      I also wet down my skin before applying it–even during the day–because, as you’ve mentioned, it helps reduce a little of the sticky mess of the petrolatum.

      On the gloves: Walmart carries a brand called “Cara Disposable Therapeutic Gloves”; Sara Glove Company (mail order) sells “Lisle Inspection Gloves” which are pretty thin, as well as a thicker knit cotton glove; Amazon has several brands ranging from inspection to dermatological.

      If you are in the U.S., any of those should be good sources.

      –Greg

    • Pat Wms says:

      Found cotton gloves today at the Dollar Store while getting Vasline. Eczema on my fingertips its murder. Im a nurse so always washing my hands. Tips crack and bleed, very painful. Steroid cream is ok but trying Vaseline now.

  15. Melissa says:

    I have terrible facial eczema around my nose and mouth, always there. Had a bad case if allergies and was blowing my nose so much it was drying out do bad it almost felt like a burn. I applied some petroleum jelly just because it was in front of me and needed some kind of relief, and boy was it! After two days of applying a light layer around my nose and mouth, my eczema disappeaered!! I had to Google it to see if I was crazy and came across your blog. I wish I had known about this years ago!!

  16. Evelyn says:

    I developed eczema late in life, just after I turned 40, IT is only on my face, especially around my mouth and chin area, and around my nose. It flared up frequently, with incredible burning and itching. My chin would be left pink,scaly and wrinkly after a severe episode. It’s been 7 years and after seeing top dermatologists, trying many perscription creams and medications and consulting pharamacists who would suggest an assortment of fragance free no additives creams that were especially formulated for eczema…nothing worked. In fact, after about 15 minutes of applying any of the creams suggested, my face would feel like it was burning and I be running to wash it off. I now have a box full of creams and topical treatments. One time in desperation I applied lip balm (chapstick) to my flared up chin. Instant relief I soon started smearing it all over my eczema areas and found it was the only thing that had helped so far. But it wasn’t ideal. I did some research and found out that the main ingredient of the lip balm I was using was PJ. I then had the idea to use pure PJ (which I have been able to find in the Boots Pharmacy in the baby section- they have a pink jar that is scented and a blue jar that is unscented). I started applying PJ immediately after washing my face, while it was still damp. It has been a miracle. My skin is softer than ever, I have had no flareups, and even the wrinkly scaling post-eczema flare-up skin on my chin is almost gone. The PJ seals in the water/mositure so your skin doesn’t dehydrate as quickly, and is a protective barrier against wind, cold and extreme heat. I found it is best to apply while your skin is still damp, within 5 minutes of showering.I use it everywhere now. I’m convinced this is something the cosmetic industry does not want to be known.

  17. jonathan says:

    Can someone help me? Reading everyone’s post really helped me understand that using p/j is the right way to go. The only concern i face at this moment is that i have mild eczema/possibly psoriasis and i been using p/j and it helps my skin, especially on my arms. My question is, has eczema gone away for u guys only using p/j? I use it every day and i even wrap myself with plastic wrap and it helps moisture my skin but will it cure my skin from getting any more silvery flakes? (Just recently i accidentally scratch my stomach and now its infected by flaky skin, any suggestion to get rid of that?)

    - i was diagnosed with eczema 2 months ago.
    -Been taking vitamins d3 2000ui, zinc, and Fish oil 1000 ( Rough red patches Gone within a month)

    • Greg Stewart says:

      Jonathan,

      I am sorry to say that there is presently no cure for eczema. The best we can do right now is to figure out what it is that causes our bodies to react in this way and to avoid those things as best we can, while keeping our skin hydrated and protected.

      My eczema has not “gone away”. I have found ways to keep it under control. For me, it has been a huge life-style change, but it has been effective as long as I can avoid my triggers.

      I would double-check with your doctor to make sure it is actually eczema that you have, and not the psoriasis you mention. These two diseases have very different mechanisms, and there are biologic treatments for psoriasis. Unfortunately, there are still no biologic treatments for eczema, although several drug trials are in the preliminary phases for them. Even more unfortunate is that no two people with eczema appear to respond in quite the same way to any specific treatment. This makes it very difficult for the development of medications to treat eczema, and for people to find prescription and over-the-counter treatments that work reliably and efficiently.

      The plastic wrap method is very common and works for many people. Although if you leave it on for too long it can cause the skin to itch due to the occlusive nature of the plastic (the skin needs to breathe). This is a variation on “wet wrapping”, which uses a wet layer of clothing on top of the skin, beneath a dry outer layer to contain it. If it is helping, you should certainly continue it.

      The “silvery flakes” of skin are due to the epidermis sloughing off, which happens when the inflamed skin dies and is replaced by new layers of skin. As you get the inflammation under control, this flaking should subside. Keep moisturising and drinking lots of water to keep the skin hydrated.

      Skin does not get “infected” by the dry flakes, but if think the inflamed areas of skin have become infected with bacteria or virus–which is common in eczema–you should certainly consult your dermatologist about treatment. Antibiotics have been used to control eczematous skin related infections, and the antibiotic drugs often do have an anti-inflammatory effect. My personal experience is that antibiotics should be used very carefully as over-use can create complications with eczema.

      I am glad to hear the supplements you are taking appear to have helped. I have been unable to determine if the same supplements have had any direct impact on my own eczema. But, I continue to take them as the entire regimen I am following seems to be helping.

      –Greg

    • Evelyn says:

      Just as a followup, I have been washing my face with a very mild cleanser (cethaphil for dry skin) twice a day, morning and night, and applying a thin layer of vaseline immediately afterwards while it is still damp. I let it sit for a bit, and then I very lightly and gently go over it with a 100 percent cotton makeup remover pad so that I do not go out with it looking greasy (but sometimes at night I just leave it…though it means I have to change me pillow case every day, lol). I don’t use plastic wrap because of the “occulding” thing. If I can feel a flareup coming on, which doesnt happen too often now (I know a flare up is coming on if the common areas start to burn a little) i first put on a very thin layer of hydrocortisone cream). I have not had a problem since starting this routine and I am so relieved. I also have rosecea on my face, many on my cheeks, but this has not cleared that issue up of course, as this is a totally different disease process. But I am just relieved the eczema on my face is under control now (ps – I used to get the dry silvery flakes as well).

      • Evelyn says:

        oops.typed in a rush…spelling error…….I don’t use plastic wrap because of the “occluding” thing….

  18. I bought a tub of PJ today. My eczema flared up and I can’t stand the itchiness . I never use PJ on my eczema but after I found this post, I started lather it all over the affected place. It’s been 4 hours now and my itchiness have reduced. Even the redness too. To my surprise, the dry and flaky skin that the eczema cause, started to soften and moist. By the way, I have eczema since I was 13, and now I’m 25. The eczema does not happen often within these 2 years but when they happen, they will make a ‘grand entrance’ on my skin.

  19. Refilwe Setou says:

    PJ is the best thing that has happened to me with my eczema this winter,my friend bought me a big tub.I find other moisturizers drying very fast.Thanks I am not alone on PJ.

  20. Evelyn says:

    another thing I have started recently that has also helped the combination rosecea/eczema on my face is never washing my hair or face with city/tap water anymore. I only ever let pure spring water (bottled) touch my face and hair. Doing this, and continued daily used of PJ, has helped immensely. I was getting eczema on my scalp too…and another tip…I add a half cup of vinegar to my hairs final rinse with bottled water… not only has been good for my hair, but for my scalp too!

  21. Victoria Renkow says:

    I am a suffer of this horrible condition for over 30 years. The past 5 weeks the bottom of my feet and toes cracked causing horrible needle like pain and intense itching. I tried everything over the counter and nothing worked in fact, it made the condition worse. In my opinion, there is no fragrance free product as claimed. If it burns, it has some hidden fragrance in it. Some of those so called eczema calming creams are the culprit. I also found, that some products actually thin the skin. Last resort, I tried 100% PJ and I am in heaven!!!! It immediately absorbed and started to heal restoring the texture and making the thinness not so tender. The itch is 99% gone! I also found this blog afterwards. We need to get the word out there!

    • Greg Stewart says:

      Vickey,

      I’m glad you found that the plain petroleum jelly works for you. I’ve been frustrated trying literally thousands of dollars of “eczema approved” products, only to find that they worsened my condition. This includes products with “seals of approval” from eczema organisations and dermatologists.

      There are many fragrance-free products for eczema that other ingredients like parabens, alcohols, stearates, dimethicone, laure(l/th) sulfates, etc. that are actually skin irritants. It baffles me that companies that market products specifically “for eczema” blindly rely on these chemicals. My personal assumption is that they really do not test them at all on eczema sufferers.

      But, the plain, 100% fragrance-free petroleum jelly has really been the only thing I can use.

      • Victoria Renkow says:

        Greg,

        I never went to the doctors for treatment because I saw what the medication prescribed to my brother who suffers from full body eczema did to his skin over time. Eucerin, the old fashion one in the tub worked well for years. I then switched to Hydrolatum – this also worked well. It was not until I saw an episode of Dr. Oz promoting the other brands of Eucerin for eczema that my nightmare began. I will use nothing but 100% PJ for it is the only product that has given me any relief in weeks. I agree with you about the testing. Not every eczema suffer is the same. Therefore, it is in my opinion that one shoe does not fit all and the manufacturers need not to claim something they know nothing about especially Dr. Oz! Thank you for answering my post – it really helped.

      • Greg Stewart says:

        Vickey, I know what you mean about the prescription meds and their impact on the skin. I’ve seen claims by some dermatologists that topical steroids “do not thin” the skin (even on respectable website and forums), but I’ve experienced very different results. I’m a martial artist, and the topical steroids have left me susceptible to easy surface bruising and impact lesions. I’ve learned to live with it, but it should not have to be this way.

        While I do still use the topical triamcinolone, I have greatly reduced my usage of it–trying to stop it, altogether, but it’s a slow process. I also have to stay away from the triggers that cause my flare ups. Have you figured out what cause(s/d) your flare ups?

        The Eucerin was bad for me, and I had tried several different products of theirs with no luck. I can use Hydrolatum on occasion, but the large amount of methylparaben ends up irritating my skin if I use too much. So, I rely on the petroleum jelly, applied to wet skin, instead. I am still trying to find a non-irritating emulsifier so that I can easily compound the petroleum jelly with water for the perfect moisturiser.

        Don’t get me started on Dr. Oz. I can’t see how the AMA hasn’t tried to get him banned from the air.

      • Victoria Renkow says:

        Hi Greg,

        I believe that stress and diet are my triggers. So far 100% pure PJ has given me my life back. Just two days into using it, I have 50% reduction in appearance and the itching is minimal. You seem to be very knowledgeable about all those little words in the ingredients that have a big impact. I was wondering why the instructions on the Hydrolatum to use sparingly – which of cause I did not.

        If you find a non-irritating emulsifier, please let me know. I trust your opinion over Dr. Oz any day!

  22. Bok says:

    Hi Greg, I hv been having contact dermatitis for yrs, i think about 10yrs or more. It was bearable until last 2yrs whereby the flare up is really bad, until the skin on my fingers started cracking. From then on, I hv been buying handcreams. Trying out different creams hoping it would work for my condition. Unfortunately, after spending a lot of money, it still does not improve.
    Among the creams that I hv tried, Moogoo, Cetaphil, Physiogel, Palmers, Duit Tough Hands cream, Eucerin, Herbacin, Eubos, Rosken, Balneum, QV(think I hv tried almost 90% of the cream available at the local pharmacy, Btw I’m from Malaysia). Mind u, some of these cream are not cheap. Well, these cream might work for other ppl, but not me.

    My condition would only improve if I used the steroid cream. Recently, I decided to just give the Vaseline PJ a try since its cheap and there is no harm trying it out…and walla…. my super dry finger are improving. Its just amazing.

    As I work in Semicon industry, we need to use glove most of the time, I will still use those cream to moisturize my hands. I now use Vaseline PJ everynight before going to bed, since it’s super greasy!. I’m really glad I try out the PJ.

    • Greg Stewart says:

      Bok,

      It seems we’ve been down the same road; although, I haven’t even heard of some of the creams you listed. Some of them may be u ique to the Asian markets. If I remember, I’ll take a look the next time I’m in the Philippines–I expect many of the products available in Malaysia are avaiable, there, as well.

      I have also tried many very expensive prescription.moisturisers, and while some of them helped, none of them proved to be worth the cost (and, I don’t have health insurance).

      I used to work in the semicon industry as well. Be careful of exposure to the photoresists, and wafer processing chemicals. All of these outgas efficiently and the fumes can have serious affects on the lungs as well as the skin.

      We used to use OAK Technical Vinyl gloves, that were better than the latex for the skin (they also prevented latex oil finger prints). If you don’t have a hypo-allergenic glove to use, you might buy cheap cotton disposable gloves to use as liners (or, see if the semicon plant will get them for you). You can also use the cotton gloves to keep the PJ on your hands while you sleep.

      (BTW – Thanks for including the link to your pbase page. Beautiful photography.)

      –Greg

  23. Vickey says:

    Hi Greg,

    It has been a month since I started using petroleum jelly on my eczema and I wanted to give you an update – I am in heaven!!!!! I no longer need to pack it on as a tiny bit will now keep my feet looking like a baby’s bottom. I can finally wear sandals but first I will have to buy a pair since I haven’t worn them in 30 years! We all know there is no cure for this horrible condition but it is extremely comforting to know that there is a product out there that for me, keeps my eczema asleep!

    Vickey

  24. Ayesha says:

    I find that the trick with the petroleum jelly is to apply it fresh out of the shower or the bath, like while your skin is still wet. It dries pretty quickly once you apply the vaseline, and that way you seal in as much moisture as possible. I have eczema and I can vouch that PJ really helps reduce dryness, itch and inflammation. Another thing I do is watch my diet. Many people who suffer eczema have allergies that can trigger inflammation, like citrus fruits, tomatoes, corn, etc. I also avoid sodium lauryl sulfate and every variation of it. It’s unfortunate, because the chemical is proven provoke inflammation, yet it is included in the majority of shower gels, bubble baths, lotions and creams. Instead, I bathe with organic, cold pressed soaps and I moisturize with pj and shea butter. My eczema is in full remission. Hope this tid bit helps.

    • Greg Stewart says:

      Ayesha,

      Everything you mentioned is is spot-on.

      I have been wetting down my skin every couple of hours to help replenish surface moisture, as well as applying the petroleum jelly to wet skin immediately after my showers. I have tried going back to several different “eczema safe” moisturisers, only to find that they still aggravate my eczema.

      The unfortunate reality is that all the fragrances, alcohols, parabens, stearates, detergents, etc. used in moisturisers and personal care products are actually skin irritants. It baffles me as to why manufacturers continue to use these chemicals in their products–well, not really; they are out to make money in the cheapest manner possible, and these chemicals are pretty cheap.

      Unfortunately for me, I have developed a sensitivity to the shea butter, so I can’t use that any more.

      The diet process seems, to me, to be the most difficult to conquer (at least, here in the U.S.). When I was in the Philippines, it was easier for me to control my diet as many of my guilty food pleasures from the U.S. are tough to find, or don’t exist there. As well, the vegetables in the Philippines are not only far cheaper than they are here in the U.S. but are more often grown without any chemical agents. Organic produce, in the U.S., can be prohibitively expensive.

      I am truly glad to hear that you have put your eczema into remission!

      –Greg

  25. Timmy says:

    Hey Greg,

    I’m Not Sure If Your Still Responding To Comments. I’m 22 Years Old. Had Eczema My Whole Life. I Have Hyperthyroidism & Eczema which don’t mix in well together. I sweat easily which is bad for my eczema. I am constantly hyper. I cant afford to see a dermatologist for my eczema or get pills from a doctor for my hyperthyroidism.

    My eczema is all over me. The worst pain is my waist & groin. it left a terrible eczema mark like a belt shape on my stomach.

    The petroleum Jelly works but I have to reapply right after it dries or it starts itching again.

    What can I do to calm down my eczema?

    Any products you recommend other than PJ?

    Timmy

    • Greg Stewart says:

      Timmy,

      I’m truly sorry to hear about the combined hyperthyroidism and eczema. Do you know if the eczema is precipitated by the hyperthyroidism?

      Sweating is a problem of mine, as well, and I try to rinse off the sweat with cool water as often as possible to keep the irritation down.

      I certainly know what it is like when you cannot afford medical care. I haven’t had insurance in more than 5 years, but my dermatologist takes pity on me, and will occasionally waive the office fee for me. But, I have been a patient of hers for almost 15 years, so she knows my struggle with both eczema and health insurance.

      If you have a Walmart near you–and if you can get some sort of medical care for the hyperthyroidism and a prescription to care for it–Walmart may have that medication in their $4.00 prescription list. It may be worth looking into.

      You might try Epsom salt baths in luke-warm to cool water. Epsom salts (magnesium sulfate) are cheap, and you would use two measuring cups of the salts in a tub of water. Soak until your skin begins to wrinkle. Don’t dry off with a towel; instead, swipe the excess off with your hands and then apply the petroleum jelly to your wet skin, gently smoothing it into the skin until the excess water is absorbed. You can do this every day if it helps.

      Most people are deficient in magnesium as we don’t get much at all in our diets. As well, magnesium is poorly assimilated through digestion. Strangely enough, it is better absorbed and assimilated through the skin, although it is not retained for very long.

      Both eczema and hyperthyroidism may be helped to some degree by magnesium supplementation, and the Epsom salts baths have helped me a bit. If the Epsom salts do not seem to be helpful enough, but seem promising for you, you may try Magnesium Chloride in the bath water, instead. It can be more expensive than Epsom salts, and you will probably have to source it on-line. Magnesium chloride can sometimes be better assimilated than magnesium sulfate, and may actually work better for hyperthyroidism.

      From the persistent marks you mention I wonder if your clothing is playing a role, as well. Have you tried wearing only cotton?

      Another thing to try is a Borage Oil supplement. You can buy these in 1000mg gelatin capsules, but they can be pricey–especially if you get the Borleans brand. There are cheaper brands on-line and at GNC and Vitamin World, but I don’t know if this is in your budget.

      Borage Oil is one of the few dietary sources of gamma-lipoic acid (GLA), which is essential for several skin cell functions. GLA is not readily made in the body.

      And, have you tried modifying your diet? If you can do a full cleansing diet (try rice and steamed vegetables for a week or more to see if there is any change/benefit), then you may be able to identify another source for the eczema, and possibly the hyperthyroidism, as well.

      On the diet front, a friend of mine in Hong Kong has written a very comprehensive article on his success in curing eczema through diet alone: The Truth About Dieting For Eczema. For Harrison eczema was primarily the result of diet, but it can certainly be a contributing factor for many of us with combined causality (as it is, now, with my own eczema).

      Stress and tension are also factors in eczema, and your hyperactivity may be playing a role. If you can work in at least a half hour a day of quiet meditation (during an Epsom salt bath might be a good time) it may help relax your immune system and help to reduce the eczema.

      For the past two years I have been trying to develop a better moisturiser than the plain petroleum jelly. I have had several failures and some partial successes, but I am still experimenting. Until I find something that works reliably for me, I am still pushing the plain petroleum jelly.

      If you can afford the borage oil, you can also break a capsule open to blend the contents with a handful of the petroleum jelly before applying it.

      Hopefully this helps at least a bit.

      –Greg

  26. For my eczema which is right over my eyes and eyebrows – I scrub my face then I use Vaseline and sunblock with spf 30 or above rating. If I do this daily It stays dormant for as long as 30 days. When I forget to do this regimen it returns with a vengenace in about 3 days.

  27. Nana says:

    Hi Greg,

    I stumbled upon your blog when I was searching for petroleum jelly effect on eczema. I’m having a flare up actually, mostly because I accidentally ate a food which slyly added with a pinch of prawn (seafood is the bane of my existence); also because of hormonal changes I think.
    Anyway, the thing about my eczema that really depresses me is the weeping. It discharges puss which can be really embarrassing and uncomfortable as the eczema patches are on my hands and fingers. I tried a lot of medication and been to dermatologist before but the sheer fee they charged me is just too much and I can’t afford it in for a long run. I am actually glad that I was not the only person who suffered from this condition since young till their 30s.
    I was not a frequent use of PJ before because it was too oily for my liking but whenever I feel itchy, I usually applied it. I never knew that its better to apply it when our skin is wet! Thank you for your post, and the comments are helpful too.
    FYI, previously I took anti-allergy shots from my dermatologist once a month but I reckon it was not good for your body as the shots contained steroid. So I am now using more safe ways to treat my eczema such as soy protein supplements and others, only that I am still relying on steroid cream to ease the flare up. Lately, the cream only causes my eczema to weep more so it really is uncomfortable. I’m going to use PJ for the next 2 weeks and see whether it helps better than the cream.
    Sorry for the long post, I am just grateful to see a lot of people willing to share the same problem here. Thanks.

    • Greg Stewart says:

      Nana,

      When eczema weeps, it is usually the result of an infection that has set into the lesions. One of the most common infections in eczematous skin is staphylococcus aureus. However, the herpes simplex virus can also infect eczematous skin, which is serious; people with eczematous inflammation need to avoid contact with individuals who have herpes simplex.

      Both bacterial and viral infections of eczematous skin can drastically hinder the healing process. Have you tried an antibiotic to help get the weeping under control? If it is a staph infection, topical antibiotics may not be sufficient. But, a skin biopsy may be needed to determine if it is a viral infection.

      Topical steroids will reduce the immune response in the skin which, in turn, can allow an infection to bloom. It may not be the steroid that is causing the weeping to increase, but the fact that it is limiting your natural immune response to the bacterial colonisation.

      I used to use soy and whey protein supplements every day until I found that I became highly allergic to soy late in 2011. The protein supplement actually started to make my eczema worse. I just recently found a beef protein supplement with no soy at all–and no whey–called “Carnivore”. I have only just started testing it to see if I’m sensitive to it, but so far things look good. Unfortunately, it’s not an option for those vegetarians out there.

      I spent a few years getting allergy shots, and it did nothing for me. I’m not sure the amount of steroid in the shots is a problem unless you are otherwise sensitive to corticosteroids. I had to stop the shots when I lost health insurance, but it was proving ineffective, anyhow.

      –Greg

  28. Chris Atkinson says:

    You are my saviour!! I was in so much pain after an eczema breakout on my face and neck, it was weeping and that sore that i was nearly in tears. After applying all the creams the doctors had given me it only made it worse or sting more, then i found the petroleum jelly, which then i read your post. If it wasn’t for this post i would probably still be in intense pain but the petroleum jelly INSTANTLY soothed my skin so thank you so much for taking your time to write this as i suffer extremely bad from eczema and it is rare I find something that works.

  29. Belinda ( Scotland) says:

    hi there. my 3 yr old son has suffered from eczema since he was 3 months old. prior to his formal diagnosis, my mother in law slathered petroleum jelly ( vaseline) on his red dry face and it cleared up in days. we later tried emollients prescribed by the family doctor as well as his dermatologist – i think we have tried everything there is to try ( diprobase, double base, 50/50, hydromol ,cetraben also tried aveeno) . diprobase and double base worked for awhile then they would stop being as effective in preventing the flare ups ( and he would scream whenever i apply them) . he is currently having one of his most severe flare ups especially on his face and his eyelids. his eyebrows looks thinner cos i think he has been scratching/ rubbing so much around the eyes. tonight, i applied some petroleum jelly ( like we first did when he was a baby) and he did not complain at all. i went onto google to find some anecdotal evidence of petroleum jelly’s soothing effect on eczema and came across your website. am pleased to read your article and the comments thread. hopefully , this simple , inexpensive remedy will help my little boy’s skin.

  30. Stephany says:

    Hello fellow eczema sufferers!

    I have eczema on my face. I agree that PJ is the best thing to keep the moisture in the skin and keep it supple.
    Another thing that REALLY REALLY helps with itch, inflammation etc…is dead sea salt!
    What i do is mix dead sea salt with water and put it in a spray bottle. When i feel that i get a flare up, i spray the dead sea salt mixture on my face, It gives me instant relief from the itchiness. I must say it can sting a bit but that doesnt take too long. It can be a bit drying on the skin, but the redness is gone in a couple of hours! and the texture of my skin looks so much better. When i spray it on my face i’ll let it dry. and spray again. When its dry i rinse with water. Then i put PJ on my face. Its a HOLY GRAIL for me. I really hope it works for you guys!

    Much love,

    Stephany from holland :-)

    • Greg Stewart says:

      Stephany,

      Thanks!

      Dead Sea Salts contain a high concentration of Magnesium, which has been found to be very helpful in improving skin hydration and also helping to reduce inflammation. They can be a little expensive for some people, but it’s certainly worth the try.

      Magnesium is poorly assimilated through digestion, but it has been shown that magnesium is actually fairly well assimilated when absorbed through the skin. So, this method is preferred for magnesium deficiency (which is very common for most present day diets).

      I’ve had a lot of success using Epsom Salts (magnesium sulphate) for the same purpose, and when I have a flare-up that doesn’t want to respond nicely to my regular regimen, I will soak in a slightly warm Epsom Salt bath for about 20 minutes. Sometimes, I’ll repeat over two or three days.

      As well, mixing a slightly concentrated solution of distilled water and Epsom Salts for the spray bottle can be an alternative for those who don’t have the extra money for the Dead Sea Salts. The usual recipe for the topical application is 470mg (~2 cups) Epsom Salt to 4 litres of distilled water (just under 1 gallon). This concentration can sting inflamed skin–just like the Dead Sea Salts–so I’d recommend reducing it to half or less the amount of Epsom Salt. I don’t rinse, afterwards, though.

      Another benefit to the Dead Sea Salts is that they also contain potassium, which can also be helpful in alleviating skin inflammation; although, the more effective form of potassium for this might be potassium permanganate.

      –Greg

  31. Vanessa. says:

    Yes, I agree with you on the effectiveness of Petroleum Jelly with regard to eczema and dermatitis. I have tried cortisone creams, Medihoney cream and Aveeno Intense Relief hand cream but none of them helped my skin to heal. My hands and elbows were still as itchy, cracked and red as before.

    In desperation I thought I’d give Petroleum Jelly a go and, to my amazement, the dry patches began to peel off within a few hours and, after a week of use my skin is becoming smooth and not as itchy or red.

    Yes, it’s messy and greasy to apply and I have to apply it many times a day but the relief of seeing smoother skin again is worth it. I wipe off the excess petroleum jelly from the palms of my hands with a tissue so that I don’t leave greasy fingerprints on everything I touch.

    I hope the good results continue.

  32. Nikki says:

    Wow i am so glad to be reading this. I suffered from mild eczema all throughtout my childhood then seemed to ‘grow out of it’. A week after my 21st birthday i had a horrendous flare up and im now 23 and still am covered from head to toe in it. Ive tried i think almost cream possible over the ounter and prescription. Ive also been to the dermatologist who has given me a steroid cream which is great but as soon as i stop using it it flares up again. I presume most of you would be the same but i do not want to use a steroid cream everday for the rest of my life! The itching is unbareable and i make myself raw by scratching (often in my sleep which im unaware of at the time!) so as the steroid cream seems to have a PJ type texture i have decided to try pure petroleum jelly. Today is my first day so fingers crossed (if they would stay as im currently so slippy) it works!! Thanks a lot. X

    • Greg Stewart says:

      Nikki,

      The steroid creams/ointments are good for getting the eczema under control, but they need to be tapered off very slowly in order to prevent rebound. Only when treating more mild cases of eczema will stopping the steroid suddenly be without a rebound.

      I have been tapering myself off of triamcinolone for almost a year now, and I am just recently down to a very tiny fraction of what I had needed last year at this time.

      Also, if you can identify the things that trigger your flare ups–which can be difficult and time consuming–you can adjust your lifestyle to avoid those triggers and make yourself more comfortable.

      I have a pile of new articles to finish up and post, but I haven’t had the energy to review, edit and finalise them. I need to get that done, soon.

      Check back and let me know how the petroleum jelly works out.

      –Greg

      • Nikki says:

        Hi Greg – Hope you’re well.
        Thought I’d check back as it’s been a while! The PJ works great, I have occasionally been using the steroid cream, as you said, to avoid rebound but I feel it’s been much more controlled over the summer months (which is quite usual for me.) Now Winter is arriving it’s beginning to flare up again – I’ve noticed the central heating makes me really itchy so trying to keep that to a minimum and only using it to take the chill off the air. However, now it is flaring up I am approaching it with a positive attitude and using PJ to get on top of it before it takes over my life again!
        Since my last post I’ve also been to an Allergy Clinic as I’ve had reactions in the past. I had 18 skin prick tests in which 12 reacted so I think I’m just prone to these things. (I now also have to carry round an epi-pen as I’m severally allergic to nuts!) Some of the allergies may also be causing flare ups – One of these was house dust mites so I’m now obsessed with hovering and cleaning!
        Sorry I have gone off the subject a bit but just wanted to stop back and say thanks for your help :)
        Nikki

      • Greg Stewart says:

        Nikki,

        I hope you make it through the winter Okay. Dry air, and the dust kicked up from central heating can certainly have an impact on eczema. Do you have the ability to add HEPA filters to your heating system?

        Also, have you tried a humidifier? If you get a cool-mist humidifier, be sure to clean it regularly and thoroughly; and, with bleach if you start to see a pink film (S. marcescens bacteria). If you get a heated humidifier, you just need to keep any hard water crust off the element. I don’t like the ones with filters as they can get mouldy.

        –Greg

  33. Danielle says:

    Hi all
    I am 34 and suffered from various flare ups throughout my life, currently I have really bad out break in various places, my question is can you have different types of eczema on different parts of your body?
    My hands, fingers and wrists always extremely itchy and have water blisters on them when I scratch, it drives me mad and skin goes really thick and crusted after the water dries up.
    My joints, in between my arms and back of knee joints, always really itchy, dry, red and more inclined to bleed rather than crust over.
    My nipples are weeping, itchy, crusting very sore and sticks to underwear which is agony!
    My groin area is again very itchy, wet, sore and small infected hair folicles
    And lastly my scalp, which again seems different, extremely dry itchy flaky

    Sorry for being so descriptive, I am scared I am using the wrong products and not been properly diagnosed, I have never seen a specialist just always meds from GP steroid cream fusebet is the only thing that has worked for me to date.

    Thank you for any help

    • Greg Stewart says:

      Danielle,

      So sorry to hear about the rampant eczema you are suffering. No problem on the explicit descriptions. I do really feel for you, and hope you can find something that helps–soon.

      Yes, you certainly can have more than one type of eczema concurrently. Different parts of the body seem to get inflamed in different ways.

      For instance, your hand eczema sounds like “pomphylox” (just the Greek word for “bubble”). It can be a form of contact dermatitis, or due to atopy (dermatoses stemming from triggers that operate inside the body). The dry itchy scalp may be a form of seborrhoeic dermatitis. Some eczematous inflammation appears where our skin is usually warm and moist–in areas where we tend to sweat.

      Eczema that weeps is often infected. The most common bacterium to colonise eczematous lesions happens to be Staph. Aureus. But, other flora can thrive in these lesions, as well, including viruses like herpes simplex.

      I would stop seeing a GP, and find a reputable dermatologist to start with. If you suspect that food may be having an impact, you might also consider seeing a gastroenterologist.

      Have you explored dietary triggers as a possible cause of your eczema (wheat, dairy, citrus, corn, soy, etc.)? What about pets, smoking, alcohol, dust, stress, fabrics, lotions, perfumes, bath products, carpeting, furniture, etc.?

      If you have been on topical steroids, and they seem to be unhelpful, then there is probably something in your daily life that is triggering your eczema that you will need to avoid.

      You mentioned Fucibet antibiotic cream as being mildly successful. There could be two reasons for this: 1) antibiotics can have an anti-inflammatory affect that operates differently than the topical steroids, and 2) your eczema may actually be infected.

      Be careful about over-use of topical antibiotics as it can actually induce allergic reactions.

      If your eczema is infected, you may need systemic antibiotics to help regain control of it. You should ask a dermatologist about this.

      Also, have you tried soaking in a bath of Epsom Salts (2 cups to a bath full of water)? Have you tried chlorine baths (1/2 cup plain bleach (sodium hypochlorite in a bath full of water)? You can do one of these baths every few days to start. If it helps, you can then slow down to once a week. (DO NOT try both in the same week–it’s not going to kill you, but it could complicate the eczema.)

      –Greg

      • Danielle says:

        Hi Greg,
        Really interesting read thanks
        so much for your reply, so many things to consider!
        Fistly the fact that I have never been refered to a dermatologist before is the first thing I will certainly persue!
        I do suffer from allergies, hayfever, pets, asthmatic etc, the last time I was tested for allergies was 30 years ago and this for my breathing not my skin. Which I know they can be all connected.
        I did not realise fusibet was an antibiotic cream but now you mention it it does work best when my skins at it worst! I tend not to use the moisture creams diprobase etc daily as the make my itch and prone to break outs.
        Never tried Epsom salts or the other remedies you suggested but I certainly will now and keep you posted,

        Kind regards and thank you

        Danielle

    • Nikki says:

      Danielle,
      Your eczema sounds exactly the same as mine, same types in same places! I feel you pain and hope it’s cleared up a bit since this post.
      Nikki

  34. laura says:

    At 34 I suddenly deloped eczema. I did have a work change with opening a home daycare so I think the constantly contact with cleaner, baby wipes, and washing/santizing my hands (without moisturizing afterwards) eventually caused havoc to occur. The first few weeks I tried to wash my hands constantly with soap and water, only to find out weeks later I was doing more damage and causing the outbreak to spread all over my fingers. I was put on an antibiotic for the infection which helped and told to use a “gentle” lotion like aveeno, but I read in another blog that water based moisturizers don’t work as I’ve noticed after the last week still have new outbreaks occuring on my skin. I’m glad I came across this blog with PJ I read about it in another website and came across this one as a result. Currently my hands and arms are covered in it and feel better than they have in a while.

    My question is how long did it take for your outbreak to go away after starting the PJ?

    • Greg Stewart says:

      Laura,

      To be honest, PJ is not really a “cure” for eczema, unless (I guess) the only thing causing the eczema would the damaged skin barrier constantly losing moisture.

      I have found that using PJ is better than a commercial lotion because it does not have the myriad other chemicals that are industry standard in moisturisers–stearates, sulfates, alcohols, parabens, siloxanes, etc.–that I have found to worsen my eczema. Apparently, others have experienced this negative reaction to commercial moisturisers, as well–including unscented, eczema-specific/approved products.

      PJ, though, is a very good sealant against the outside world. Well, for as long as it stays on the skin. So, it is very helpful in protecting the skin against contact and airborne triggers, as well as sealing in what little moisture we eczema sufferers tend to have in our skin. Commercial moisturisers tend not to last very long, and tend not to moisturise deeply enough to make a difference.

      The connection you have made between your eczema flares and the cleaning products, baby wipes, etc. may indicate a sensitivity that you cannot get past. I have found that many of these products are very harmful to my own eczema, and the only thing I can do is to avoid them, altogether. There is nothing that I have found that can desensitise me for the cleaning products and other chemicals. You may try non-latex gloves when working these products.

      Essentially, it may require a lifestyle change to fully combat the eczema. Using the PJ will be a benefit in helping to keep the skin moist and protected, but identifying all your triggers and avoiding them will also be an important step in healing.

      –Greg

  35. Cassie says:

    try 14 cup coconut oil mixed with about 10 drops of tea tree oil. rub on dry spots, let soak in then apply vaseline

    • Greg Stewart says:

      Unfortunately, my skin has stopped tolerating both coconut oil and tea tree. I used to use both of these fairly regularly. I am now also allergic to coconut as a food, which may have been due to the transmission of coconut proteins through the eczematous inflammation which then triggered an IgE response; I now believe this is what happened for a lot the foods I used to be able to eat, that are recently causing me some pretty strong allergic reactions.

      If you are tolerant of coconut oil and tea tree, they can be very helpful. But, for those of us with sensitivities to them, they can make things quite a bit worse. I’m hoping that as my skin heals, and the inflammation gets under better control, that my topical sensitivities will begin to disappear. It would also be nice if my food intolerance of things like coconut would also disappear, but I’m more cynically realistic about those.

  36. MitchGrace says:

    Hi! I have an 11-month-old daughter with eczema. I also use PJ and it’s very helpful. However, I want to buy a body wash that is gentle enough for her skin type. What could you recommend? Thanks for this post.

    • Greg Stewart says:

      It’s been getting more and more difficult to find something truly gentle and reliable. I was using Cottontails Soothing Creamy Baby Wash until the Stop-n-Shops near me all stopped carrying it (it’s a store brand).

      Cetafil comes in at a close second, in my opinon, but it doesn’t lather up well at all, and can be a little tricky when using it as a shampoo–it works, though, and it’s what I’ve been using since I lost access to the Cottontails cleanser. If you have a Giant Foods, or a Stop-n-Shop near you it’s working taking a look to see if they still have it.

      CeraVe also has some decent gentle hydrating cleansers which are similar to the Cetafil.

      I am not fond of any of the Aveeno products. Most of them have fragrance, and those that don’t simply don’t wash off completely, and that leaves a lot of chemicals in contact with the skin which can exacerbate the eczema. Also, if your daughter is sensitive to oatmeal, the colloidal oatmeal products would not be advisable.

      My 17 month old daughter is very sensitive to the “hypoallergenic” baby wipes, so we stopped using them and simply wash her in the sink when changing diapers. If you do use the wipes, you might want to try a period without them to see if things clear up a bit. The rash can extend well beyond the diaper area if your daughter is highly sensitive to them.

      It really is a matter of trial and error, though. Some products that work well for some individuals are horrible for others, and vice versa.

      I recommend reading the labels and choosing the products with no fragrance, and the fewest ingredients. The ones with the least parabens, alcohols, stearates, etc. are best, and you want to find one that washes off completely while not sucking too much moisture out of the skin.

      Also, remember to apply the petroleum jelly to wet skin, which will help seal in moisture, rather than just make her greasy.

      –Greg

      • Mitchie Grace Manuel says:

        Hi Greg! Thanks for your response. I’ve also heard that Cetaphil is good and gentle but I also heard that it contains parabens. Well I think, I have to try various products and see what’s good for my baby. Thanks! :)

      • Greg Stewart says:

        Correct. It does contain both methyl- and propylparaben, as does the CeraVe. But, the Cetafil does wash off completely. The CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser, not as much.

        From my own experience (and, this may not be everyone’s experience) the fact that the Cetafil washes off so well prevents the parabens from causing my eczema to flare. If I use the fragrance-free Aveeno Soothing Creamy Baby Wash, which does not have parabens, my skin begins to flare from the other ingredients that do not wash off my skin. Keep in mind that my skin is extremely sensitive.

        Depending on your daughter’s sensitivity, the Cetafil may be safe. But, you would need to test it to know for certain.

  37. Ann says:

    Amen to this. I am a long time sufferer of eczema (first face, then moved on to hands and fingers) with periods of eczema flareups lasting from anywhere between a few months, to 4-5 years for each period.

    I recently discovered Vaseline (petroleum jelly) and I’m amazed. It’s accomplished what I paid hundreds of dollars to dermatologists to do. It’s a simple but wonderfully effective way to treat horrible eczema flare ups, and the painful welts and tearing skin that go along with it. The scaly skin vanishes, skin tears close up within hours, (or minutes if it’s a mild tear) and flaking skin (the kind that sometimes snags, tears, bleeds, and then gets itself infected) just falls off gently on its own. Itching goes off on its own as well.

    Wish sometimes had told me this years years ago… Imagine all the pain, agony and money that would have saved me. And its always useful to have fingerprints once again ;)

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