Soft white paraffin is also known as white petroleum jelly. It is used in a variety of applications which include pharmaceutical, cosmetic and skin care uses. It is an odorless jelly that is impervious to water. This makes it useful for many applications in which moisture needs to be sealed within the skin, or in which a water-resistant protective layer is required between the skin and external contaminants.
The stratum corneum is an outer layer of your skin cells that retains moisture in the skin. This layer can be diminished or lost for a variety of reasons. These include aging and washing with soap and hot water. Applying soft white paraffin creates a substitute for the stratum corneum and the sebum that naturally keep your skin moisturized. This improves the health of your skin, diminishes dryness and prevents cracking.
Benefits to Other Topical Medicines
As the skin is smoothed and softened, its ability to absorb other medicines increases. The website Net Doctor notes that this is a useful effect of white soft paraffin in patients with eczema, because it improves other medicines such as corticosteroid creams’ ability to penetrate the skin, which reduces inflammation.
White soft paraffin is only useful in this application when it is used to increase the long-term condition of your skin. Simply applying it before applying other medicated creams may only dilute those medicines. When using white soft paraffin regularly to smooth and soften your skin, allow sufficient time to pass between applying the paraffin and applying your other topical medications.
Medical and Dental Lubricant and Protectorant
Soft white paraffin is used in or around the mouth to protect lips and gums during dental procedures and surgery. It is also used to lubricate breathing tubes and other foreign objects that are inserted through the mouth.
Healing Burns and Cracked Skin
The website for the University of Maryland notes medical science indicates cold water and ice are the preferred treatment materials for new burns. White soft paraffin may be used on a burn, but only after it has cooled. The Consumer Reports Health Blog lists white paraffin as useful for healing burns.
It can be applied to both retain moisture and prevent further damage to the burned area. This facilitates healing of the burn. It works similarly as a protectorant on skin that has cracked because of dryness.
Rob Callahan lives in Minneapolis, where he covers style, culture and the arts for Vita.MN and "l'étoile Magazine." His work has earned awards in the fields of journalism, social media and the arts. Callahan graduated from Saint Cloud State University in 2001 with a Bachelor's degree in philosophy.