Finding the Vaseline difficult to cover/apply to the open wound from MOHS surgery on top of my husband's head .. Is it safe to use a Personal Lubricant Jelly ??
Is It Safe to Use Lubricating Jelly in Place of Vaseline to Heal an Open Wound?
Doctor Answers (8)
Lubricating Jelly in Place of Vaseline to Heal an Open Wound?
Thank you for your question. Typically, surgeons and dermatologists recommend emollient ointments (more oil based) vs lubricating jelly (sometimes water based or with another vehicle) for healing wounds. Skin heals best in a lubricated, emollient environment, and for this reason Vaseline or Aquaphor Healing Ointment tend to be best for healing wounds. I hope this helps.
Vaseline versus lubricating jelly for healing wound
Vaseline or Aquaphor are the best choices by far for a healing scalp wound. They trap in moisture and leave no residue. Definitely stick to the gold standard!
When it comes to open wounds, vaseline does a fantastic job of allowing the skin to heal or re-epithelize. Because it is thick and occlusive, it prevents the wound from drying up and scabbing. Numerous studies have shown that it is just as good as antibiotic ointment in healing wounds. No difference have been found in rates of infection between vaseline and antibiotic ointments. I only reserve antibiotic ointments if I suspect an active infection.
Lubricant Jelly, on the other hand, is usually water or alcohol based, thus not thick or occlusive enough to help heal wounds. I would avoid using this. Scalps are difficult to cover in general because of the hairs around the wound. I would suggest either using less vaseline so the bandage can stick better OR using a lot of vaseline and avoiding the bandages all together. The goal is to prevent the wound from drying out!
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Vaseline or Aquaphor best for wound care
Unless the wound is dirty or contaminated, Vaseline/petroleum jelly or Aquaphor should be adequate for most Mohs surgery or biopsy wound care. I do not believe much has been studied regarding use of lubricating jelly for wound care. We routine advise against use of bacitracin, Neosporin, or polysporin due to increasing prevalence of contact skin allergy.
We typically use a topical antibiotic such as mupiricin to keep wounds from secondary infection. If , however, you have allergy to these, vaseline petroleum is a reasonable alternative.
Vaseline for healing an open wound
When a Mohs defect needs to fill in by second intent, a very convenient way to keep the wound moist is by using Vaseline or Aquaphor to the site. It sounds as if you may be using too much, so I would recommend that instead of filling the wound with Vaseline, apply it like a layer of peanut butter to the gauze dressing and then place it face down on the wound. Extra gauze and tape will hold everything in place. One can actually buy gauze that is impregnated with vaseline already, so this will actually help keep the ointment in place. Occasionally I have patients who just seem to melt the ointment no matter what we try, so we will often switch them to sterile saline dressings which actually do heal sites very quickly but do require more frequent dressing changes. So in summary, try to use less or consider switching to sterile saline dressings instead. Hang in there!
Vaseline is the preferred wound care agent for most Mohs surgeons
I think vaseline is a wonderful wound healing agent and is often more effective and less likely to cause complications than other alternatives that may also be more expensive to you. What is difficult about the vaseline? If you find it messy, may I suggest, applying a smaller amount so that you generously cover the wound but don't get any over the rest of the skin.
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