Please, no petroleum

By Kate Clayton-Jones
MSN PhD(c) RN CFCN CFCS

Here is my appeal to you all.
Please don’t use Vaseline or petroleum-based creams or salves on feet, especially on the feet of diabetics or the elderly.

Why… you ask? What’s wrong with using it?

Vaseline is a petroleum-based product and petroleum-based products are occlusives. This means they seal the moisture in. At first, that might sound good. But if you stop to think about it, holding moisture next to the skin is not good for the skin. You’ve heard of wicking moisture away. When moisture is not wicked away it causes maceration, which means the softening and breaking down of the skin resulting from prolonged exposure to moisture.  This is also creating the perfect moist or even wet environment for bacteria and fungus. In the world of wound care, keeping wounds moist is why we use petroleum – think skin tear. But even in wound care, there are better products because it is known that petroleum products such as Vaseline creates its own problem. These are the problems that you and I are trying to avoid – things like cracked heels and dry skin.   Vaseline induced skin breakdown

 

 

Vaseline induced skin breakdowns are painful. Painful feet adversely affect the people who own them.

 

Natural oils such as coconut oil or olive oil are much better choices. Oils have been used on the skin for centuries with good success. The skin loves the oil and can still breathe. This is especially important for those with sweaty feet. Yes, you can have dry skin and sweaty feet at the same time and not all flaky skin is dry skin. We often find that it is actually related to other things like neuropathies, tinea pedis or skin touching skin. These are important issues to be considered and addressed.

So please, from all of us at FootCare by Nurses please help us prevent cracked heels, painful feet, fungal issues and maceration by choosing to use a kinder, more effective product on those feet. If you are not sure, and what you are doing doesn’t seem to be working, we would be happy to guide you.


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