Seborrheic dermatitis is a common skin condition that causes red, itchy patches on the scalp, face, neck, and upper chest. SD is potentially a life-long condition. People with seborrheic dermatitis often use products to treat the condition, including moisturizers and topical treatments like creams and lotions containing petroleum jelly. Vaseline is 100% petroleum jelly and is known for its moisturizing properties.
Vaseline has not been shown to help relieve symptoms of seborrheic dermatitis, and some people may find that it makes their seborrheic dermatitis worse. There is some concern that Vaseline can even trigger seborrheic dermatitis in people who are already prone to the condition. In fact, the American Academy of Dermatology Association (AAD) cautions against using Vaseline if you have seborrheic dermatitis.
If you’re looking for a good moisturizer, read my review on the best face moisturizers for seborrheic dermatitis and how to choose the right one.
You may also be interested in The 6 best natural alternatives to petroleum jelly (and DIY options).
If you want to know more about Vaseline, let’s take a deep dive:
Is Vaseline good for seborrheic dermatitis?
Vaseline (petroleum jelly) is an occlusive. That means when applied, it forms a ‘thick blanket’ over your skin to prevent moisture loss. When your skin is peeling and dry, in theory this makes sense. However, Vaseline doesn’t allow your skin to ‘breathe’, causing sebum, dirt and oils to accumulate on the skin surface. This causes clogged pores, oily skin, and you guessed, it, worsens seborrheic dermatitis.
There is only one instance of seborrheic dermatitis where I feel Vaseline has a role. In infant cradle cap, you can rub Vaseline on your baby’s scalp to loosen the flakes before brushing it off with a soft brush. I would then wash the Vaseline away rather than leave it on.
Vaseline is easily available, cheap and easy to use. The only problem is it can make your SD worse:
Further reading: Olive Oil For Seborrheic Dermatitis: How To Use It And Why
How to use Vaseline to treat seborrheic dermatitis?
Here’s how to use vaseline to treat scalp seborrheic dermatitis in infants:
1. Apply petroleum jelly or baby oil (mineral oil) to the scalp. I prefer using baby oil.
2. Use a soft toothbrush or baby hairbrush to loosen the scales.
3. Gently rub their scalp with a wet cotton washcloth.
4. Rinse the scalp well before shampooing as usual.
5. Shampoo your baby’s hair two to three times a week until the scales disappear.
6. Decrease shampoos to twice weekly after scales disappear completely
I don’t recommend using Vaseline for dandruff or seborrhoeic dermatitis in general.
In fact, there are loads of other products around for infant cradle cap that smell better and is more soothing to the skin, like this organic coconut oil for cradle cap:
What are the side effects of using Vaseline to treat seborrheic dermatitis?
Vaseline can cause a multitude of problems when used on seborrheic dermatitis. It can irritate your skin and cause it to become more itchy. Vaseline can also cause your skin to be more oily, resulting in a flare of SD. Creams and lotions that contain petroleum jelly like Aquaphor can cause stinging and burning when applied to your damaged skin. It feels oily and yucky.
All in all, only bad things come out of using Vaseline to treat seborrheic dermatitis.
Can Vaseline trigger seborrheic dermatitis?
Vaseline, together with other skin care products that are emollients, don’t allow the skin to breathe, resulting in accumulation of toxins, dead skin cells and oils on the surface of the skin. This increases your risk of having a seborrheic dermatitis flare up.
Further reading: What triggers seborrheic dermatitis?
Does Vaseline make seborrheic dermatitis worse?
If you are already in the throes of a seborrheic dermatitis flare, slathering on Vaseline can cause a painful burning and stinging sensation. Vaseline will also cause your skin to fee oiler, potentially causing your seborrheic dermatitis to get worse.
To wrap up
Vaseline can trap moisture and oil on the skin, which can aggravate the symptoms of seborrheic dermatitis. If you have this condition, it is best to avoid using Vaseline and other petroleum-based products. There are many effective treatments available that can help alleviate your symptoms, including light-weight natural moisturizers. Use those instead.