Eczema Treatment with Coconut Oil, Mineral Oil vs. Vaseline

Eczema Treatment with Coconut Oil, Mineral Oil vs. Vaseline
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Natural topical remedies for eczema, including licorice root gel, St. John’s Wort cream, and emollients such as coconut oil, mineral oil, and petroleum jelly, are put to the test.

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Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

“Despite the availability of [drugs] with proven efficacy” for eczema, like topical steroids, many patients seek out natural alternatives. “Which plant [then, should be used] for which skin disease?” Well, in the case of eczema, two appeared to beat out placebo. One was licorice root. Smearing on a placebo gel didn’t appear to help much with clearing redness or itchiness after one week or two weeks, but a 1% licorice gel, and especially a 2% gel, did seem to clear the symptoms in most patients. They conclude that “licorice extract could be considered…an effective [eczema treatment] agent.”

The other successful trial was with St. John’s wort cream, showing a reduction in eczema severity scores week by week superior to that of placebo. So, it works better than nothing, but the question is: Does it work better than drugs, better than topical steroids? That we don’t know. Sometimes, the drugs don’t work, though: so-called “recalcitrant” atopic dermatitis. So, these researchers in Japan asked patients to try drinking four cups of oolong tea every day for a month, and most patients “showed marked [or at least] moderate improvement,” starting after one or two weeks, and then, most remained better even five months after they stopped. The problem is that there was no control group. So, we don’t know how many would have gotten better on their own. But, since drinking tea is healthy anyway, why not give it a try?

Back to topical treatments: a vitamin B12 cream beat out the same cream without the B12. Most of the patients and doctors rated the results of the B12 cream as good; better than they rated the placebo cream.

Regardless of what topical agent you use, steroid or otherwise, “[f]irst and foremost, though, it is essential that the skin barrier [be] protected and maintained with the use of emollients,” meaning moisturizers, “ideally…once or twice” a day, especially right after showering, to lock in the moisture. Petroleum jelly, like Vaseline, is highly effective, but it’s kind of greasy and messy. What about something like coconut oil, which is less greasy? It was found to improve skin dryness, though no better than mineral oil, which is cheaper. Is mineral oil safe, though?

Exposure to mineral oil was found to be associated with rheumatoid arthritis, but that was occupational exposure to industrial mineral oils, like hydraulic fluid. The same group of researchers subsequently found that cosmetic-grade mineral oil did not seem to carry the same risk. In general, topically applied mineral oil shouldn’t present any health risk.

That doesn’t mean you can safely inject it into your penis, as that “may have devastating cosmetic and sexual function consequences.” There is, however, one good use for mineral oil on the penis, and that’s for “penile zipper entrapment.” “The skin of the [penis] is susceptible to entrapment in the zipper of careless young boys, particularly those who fail to wear undergarments. Understandably, this mishap provokes distress in the unfortunate victim, in his parents, and ultimately in the healthcare provider charged with the task of liberating the organ.” A recommended textbook approach is surgery, believe it or not, but just liberally dose with some mineral oil and you can just slip the zipper off, minimizing trauma for all involved parties.

But, just because it works as well as coconut oil for dry skin, doesn’t mean it works as well for eczema. Head-to-head, topical virgin coconut oil works better than topical mineral oil at decreasing eczema severity, with twice as many children experiencing an excellent response after two months’ treatment. “Thus, among pediatric patients with mild to moderate [eczema], topical application of [virgin coconut oil] was superior to that of mineral oil.”

But, what about compared to virgin olive oil? Olive oil worked, dropping eczema severity, but coconut oil worked better. What do these numbers mean? Like, what does going from a severity score of 35 down to 20 look like? From this to that: before and after four weeks of topical coconut oil.

Now, we know coconut oil has a lot of saturated fat; so, we don’t want to eat it. But, the saturated fat isn’t absorbed into your skin unless you’re a baby, where your skin is so thin you can actually absorb saturated coconut fat into your bloodstream. But, in older children and adults, using coconut oil on your skin or hair is considered safe. Now, that still doesn’t mean you can inject it into your penis. “He…certainly achieved enlargement,” the medical student noted, “looking at the swollen, red, oozing mass before [her].”

Okay, but what about treating eczema with just plain Vaseline? Eczema can already be expensive to deal with. The average out-of-pocket cost can be $274 a month; that’s more than a third of a typical family’s disposable income. And, you can rub a kid head to toe with petroleum jelly for like four cents, whereas coconut oil or some of the fancier over-the-counter moisturizers can be many times more expensive—though not as bad as some prescription moisturizers that can cost over a hundred dollars per tube, and work no better than the over-the-counter stuff. Wait; I only see one line—exactly, they’re right on top of one another. No evidence of superiority over the traditional petroleum jelly-based over-the counter-products that can be 65 times cheaper.

Yeah, but doesn’t virgin coconut oil have like active ingredients, whereas petroleum jelly is just “inert”? Vaseline has been around since 1872, but it took the scientific community 144 years to put it to the test. And, it’s not inert at all, significantly upregulating genes that fight infection, and inducing the expression of genes that help with barrier function, increasing the thickness of the protective outer layer of skin, and actively reducing inflammation. Yeah, but is it safe? Not, if you inject it into your—. What is it with men injecting stuff into their penis? “In…less severe cases, the problem [can] be solved [with] basic surgery.” Otherwise, it may require major reconstruction. Evidently, done a lot by prisoners, giving a whole new meaning to the term Jailhouse Rock. An unbelievable one in six inmates at the largest prison in Hungary “admitted [to] Vaseline self-injection.” Or, how about actual rocks, the surgical implantation of stones in the penis?

Or injecting “industrial silicone.” I will never look at the term “silicone caulk” the same way, ever again. When men were asked why they were injecting fishy substances into their penises, most explained that it was because they felt under-endowed, but one guy said he just wanted to give it a try. But, why inject cod-liver oil into your penis when you can just inject the mercury directly, and cut out the middlefish.

Anyways, based on 77 studies of moisturizers for eczema, no reliable evidence that one moisturizer is any better than the other, though a consensus of experts concluded that petroleum jelly may be best for skin barrier function protection.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Image credit: saponifier. Image has been modified.

Motion graphics by Avocado Video

Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

“Despite the availability of [drugs] with proven efficacy” for eczema, like topical steroids, many patients seek out natural alternatives. “Which plant [then, should be used] for which skin disease?” Well, in the case of eczema, two appeared to beat out placebo. One was licorice root. Smearing on a placebo gel didn’t appear to help much with clearing redness or itchiness after one week or two weeks, but a 1% licorice gel, and especially a 2% gel, did seem to clear the symptoms in most patients. They conclude that “licorice extract could be considered…an effective [eczema treatment] agent.”

The other successful trial was with St. John’s wort cream, showing a reduction in eczema severity scores week by week superior to that of placebo. So, it works better than nothing, but the question is: Does it work better than drugs, better than topical steroids? That we don’t know. Sometimes, the drugs don’t work, though: so-called “recalcitrant” atopic dermatitis. So, these researchers in Japan asked patients to try drinking four cups of oolong tea every day for a month, and most patients “showed marked [or at least] moderate improvement,” starting after one or two weeks, and then, most remained better even five months after they stopped. The problem is that there was no control group. So, we don’t know how many would have gotten better on their own. But, since drinking tea is healthy anyway, why not give it a try?

Back to topical treatments: a vitamin B12 cream beat out the same cream without the B12. Most of the patients and doctors rated the results of the B12 cream as good; better than they rated the placebo cream.

Regardless of what topical agent you use, steroid or otherwise, “[f]irst and foremost, though, it is essential that the skin barrier [be] protected and maintained with the use of emollients,” meaning moisturizers, “ideally…once or twice” a day, especially right after showering, to lock in the moisture. Petroleum jelly, like Vaseline, is highly effective, but it’s kind of greasy and messy. What about something like coconut oil, which is less greasy? It was found to improve skin dryness, though no better than mineral oil, which is cheaper. Is mineral oil safe, though?

Exposure to mineral oil was found to be associated with rheumatoid arthritis, but that was occupational exposure to industrial mineral oils, like hydraulic fluid. The same group of researchers subsequently found that cosmetic-grade mineral oil did not seem to carry the same risk. In general, topically applied mineral oil shouldn’t present any health risk.

That doesn’t mean you can safely inject it into your penis, as that “may have devastating cosmetic and sexual function consequences.” There is, however, one good use for mineral oil on the penis, and that’s for “penile zipper entrapment.” “The skin of the [penis] is susceptible to entrapment in the zipper of careless young boys, particularly those who fail to wear undergarments. Understandably, this mishap provokes distress in the unfortunate victim, in his parents, and ultimately in the healthcare provider charged with the task of liberating the organ.” A recommended textbook approach is surgery, believe it or not, but just liberally dose with some mineral oil and you can just slip the zipper off, minimizing trauma for all involved parties.

But, just because it works as well as coconut oil for dry skin, doesn’t mean it works as well for eczema. Head-to-head, topical virgin coconut oil works better than topical mineral oil at decreasing eczema severity, with twice as many children experiencing an excellent response after two months’ treatment. “Thus, among pediatric patients with mild to moderate [eczema], topical application of [virgin coconut oil] was superior to that of mineral oil.”

But, what about compared to virgin olive oil? Olive oil worked, dropping eczema severity, but coconut oil worked better. What do these numbers mean? Like, what does going from a severity score of 35 down to 20 look like? From this to that: before and after four weeks of topical coconut oil.

Now, we know coconut oil has a lot of saturated fat; so, we don’t want to eat it. But, the saturated fat isn’t absorbed into your skin unless you’re a baby, where your skin is so thin you can actually absorb saturated coconut fat into your bloodstream. But, in older children and adults, using coconut oil on your skin or hair is considered safe. Now, that still doesn’t mean you can inject it into your penis. “He…certainly achieved enlargement,” the medical student noted, “looking at the swollen, red, oozing mass before [her].”

Okay, but what about treating eczema with just plain Vaseline? Eczema can already be expensive to deal with. The average out-of-pocket cost can be $274 a month; that’s more than a third of a typical family’s disposable income. And, you can rub a kid head to toe with petroleum jelly for like four cents, whereas coconut oil or some of the fancier over-the-counter moisturizers can be many times more expensive—though not as bad as some prescription moisturizers that can cost over a hundred dollars per tube, and work no better than the over-the-counter stuff. Wait; I only see one line—exactly, they’re right on top of one another. No evidence of superiority over the traditional petroleum jelly-based over-the counter-products that can be 65 times cheaper.

Yeah, but doesn’t virgin coconut oil have like active ingredients, whereas petroleum jelly is just “inert”? Vaseline has been around since 1872, but it took the scientific community 144 years to put it to the test. And, it’s not inert at all, significantly upregulating genes that fight infection, and inducing the expression of genes that help with barrier function, increasing the thickness of the protective outer layer of skin, and actively reducing inflammation. Yeah, but is it safe? Not, if you inject it into your—. What is it with men injecting stuff into their penis? “In…less severe cases, the problem [can] be solved [with] basic surgery.” Otherwise, it may require major reconstruction. Evidently, done a lot by prisoners, giving a whole new meaning to the term Jailhouse Rock. An unbelievable one in six inmates at the largest prison in Hungary “admitted [to] Vaseline self-injection.” Or, how about actual rocks, the surgical implantation of stones in the penis?

Or injecting “industrial silicone.” I will never look at the term “silicone caulk” the same way, ever again. When men were asked why they were injecting fishy substances into their penises, most explained that it was because they felt under-endowed, but one guy said he just wanted to give it a try. But, why inject cod-liver oil into your penis when you can just inject the mercury directly, and cut out the middlefish.

Anyways, based on 77 studies of moisturizers for eczema, no reliable evidence that one moisturizer is any better than the other, though a consensus of experts concluded that petroleum jelly may be best for skin barrier function protection.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Image credit: saponifier. Image has been modified.

Motion graphics by Avocado Video

Doctor's Note

What about eating coconut oil? See Coconut Oil and the Boost in HDL “Good” Cholesterol and What About Coconuts, Coconut Milk, and Coconut Oil MCTs?.

What about swallowing oil supplements? That was the topic of my last video, Eczema Treatment with Evening Primrose Oil vs. Borage Oil vs. Hempseed Oil.

I have more on eczema coming up, so make sure you’re subscribed so you don’t miss anything.

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

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