First discovered about two hundred years ago, petroleum jelly has been widely used as an ointment for only about half that time. It was first used as a treatment for skin injuries, although it has since been used for a wide range of skin problems. Petroleum jelly is a semi-solid mixture of hydrocarbons. It is flammable and has a melting point of around 37 degrees Celsius. It is translucent and pale yellow. It generally does not have any taste or smell. It is also hydrophobic, meaning that it repels water, and it is not soluble in water.
Petroleum jelly has been used widely in the field of medicine for the purpose of attempting to heal scars. It does appear to have some beneficial healing properties. For example, it prevents other fluids or contaminants from entering a wound, so it protects the wound from bacteria and infection. This is one way it can help prevent severe scarring, as infection can result in worse scars. Additionally, by keeping the wound moist, it inhibits the formation of thick scabs, which is good because scabs delay the healing process.
However, it is important to realize that the healing benefits of petroleum jelly are only effective on fresh wounds and cuts, and it has no effect on older scars. While it may work to minimize scarring in the first place, it will not reduce, improve, or minimize the appearance of old scars.
Petroleum jelly is thought to be beneficial in many types of applications. For example, it can soothe chapped lips, soften dry skin, and protect the skin from hair dyes or other chemicals. It can also be gently massaged into the feet before going to bed to get rid of cracks and tough, dry skin.
Unfortunately, in spite of its many potential benefits, scar healing does not appear to be among them. Any perceived benefit gained from using petroleum jelly on an older scar is likely just the temporary effect of keeping the scar moisturized. Even in the case of fresh cuts or wounds, its abilities are limited, as it cannot be used on deep or severe wounds. If you are unsure about whether petroleum jelly is safe to use on a cut or other skin injury, ask your doctor.
As far as healing an older scar is concerned, a product with more than just moisturizing properties is required. Moisture is an important component of scar healing, but so are collagen regulation, oxygen circulation, and optimal nutrition – and clearly, petroleum jelly provides none of these. A better choice is a product that contains a mixture of ingredients known to bring about significant improvement in the appearance and texture of scars, such as dimethicone silicone, licorice, and certain vitamins. A healthy diet and regular exercise also go a long way toward healing scars.
Moisture alone cannot heal scars the way many other proven ingredients and methods can, so if you are serious about improving your scars, your best bet is a product designed to do just that.
Do you have a question about your scars? Leave a comment and we’ll be happy to answer.
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