Petroleum Jelly! Your dermatologist uses it all day! Every single time he or she takes a biopsy, it gets slabbed onto the wound to speed along the healing process. For some reason though, most of us Americans still buy some over the counter antibiotic ointment and use that. Some of these antibiotic ointment companies have even created very convincing advertising campaigns to persuade you to pay top dollar for their special goo. Rotten!
What does science tell us about the supposed superiority of antibiotic ointments, and why do doctors have practices contrary to those of the general public? Well, Here's the scoop. Knowledge is power.
Back in 1996 a study was published in JAMA that involved a whopping 922 patients who had a total of 1,249 wounds. (Oweee!) The doctors used white petrolatum on 440 patients and bacitracin ointment on 444 patients.
They found that 9 people in the petroleum group got an infection while 4 in the bacitractin group got infected. That's really freaking close (like 2% vs 0.9%)! Furthermore, they found that no one in the petroleum group developed an allergic reaction but 4 patients in the bactracin group developed a skin allergy. Furthermore, the healing between the two groups was statistically identical.
What's the take away message? Here it is:
Petroleum jelly is effective and safe and it won't give you an allergic reaction. It is also cheap. You will need to make sure you clean your wounds no matter what you out on before a bandage, but from your dermatologist's perspective, petroleum jelly is better than any product that rhymes with meosporin. Now you know where the origin of your doctor's habits.